Health Minister Zweli Mkhize on Monday denied reports that he held meetings with various African National Congress political leaders over the Digital Vibes matter and that he blamed President Cyril Ramaphosa for trying to oust potential ANC presidency contenders with the investigation.
“The minister wishes to clarify that he does not believe that this investigation has anything to do with ANC politics or as referred to in the article, ‘2022’,” Mkhize said through a Department of Health statement on Monday night. “At no point has the minister blamed the president for this investigation.”
In an article over the weekend, the Sunday Times stated that the health minister held a meeting with ANC regional leaders at his Pietermaritzburg home, where “he is said to have blamed President Cyril Ramaphosa for targeting potential candidates who could challenge him next year”.
The party is set to hold its elective conference next year.
At the centre of the debacle is a R150 million irregular tender that his department awarded to Digital Vibes, a company linked to some of his close associates. The minister’s son was also shown to have benefited from the proceeds.
“As previously stated publicly, it was the minister that advised the [director-general] to conduct an independent investigation after receiving the [Auditor-General] report that recommended that the department must interrogate possible overcharging by Digital Vibes. It was also the minister who briefed president about this investigation, thereafter the [Special Investigating Unit] publicly announced that it would use an already existing proclamation looking into matters of COVID-19 contracts malfeasance.”
The statement also highlighted that before the SIU took over the investigation, “the Department of Health had initiated its own investigation. It is therefore disingenuous to allege that this is linked to any political contestation.”
The SIU last month said it made findings in its investigation into a dodgy Department of Health contract involving two former close associates Mkhize – Tahera Mather and Naadhira Mitha. But the head of the corruption busting unit Andy Mothibi said he couldn’t disclose the outcome of the probe just yet.
With calls mounting for Mkhize to step aside amid the investigation, the Sunday Times article further added that the meeting the Mkhize had with regional ANC leaders was an attempt to garner support for his ANC presidential bid.
“The minister remains committed to cooperating with the investigation process as it proceeds, and will ensure that the department continues to do its work in rolling out the vaccination programme and puts the necessary measures in place to mitigate the risk of the third wave,” Mkhize said in the statement.