Amid claims that there is a political agenda in the Digital Vibes debacle, health minister Zweli Mkhize has been placed on special leave to allow him to attend to the allegations and investigations surrounding the contract between the Department of Health and Digital Vibes, a company that was appointed by the department for communications service. This was announced by the Presidency on Tuesday and in a way confirmed by Mkhize himself in an earlier statement which was made in the Northern Cape, in which he said that he had agreed with the president on the issue of being placed on special leave. In addition, the statement said that the current Tourism Minister, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, would act in his place even though no time period was given.
Reacting to the news of the placing of Mkhize on special leave, the leader of the opposition party, the African Democratic Christian Party, Kenneth Meshoe said that, while his party welcomed the decision taken by the President, they felt that this should have happened much earlier. He was speaking to the media on Tuesday afternoon. Meshoe added that the fact that this had happened in his department and with a company that he had close links with had put a dent in his credibility and he should have done the honourable thing and resigned.
Also speaking to the media, a member of another opposition, the Congress of the People, David Bloem said that it was not acceptable that the president had placed Mkhize on special leave, adding that he should have been fired. He added that if the minister really felt that he had no part in awarding the contract to Digital Vibes, he should have gone to court against those who were accusing him of such.
Zweli Mkhize is being accused of having a hand in the irregular awarding of a communications contract to Digital Vibes, a company that has close links to some close allies of his, whom he has referred to as his comrades. An investigation by the Special Investigation Unit has revealed that the company is said to have deposited some money, close to R300 000 into the account of Mkhize’s son. In addition, the company is said to have paid for renovations to a property that belongs to Mkhize’s trust. Internal investigations in the Health Department have revealed that the awarding of the contract to Digital Vibes was not done in accordance with the statutes of government. In addition, Mkhize, himself announced that was considered wasteful expenditure and processes were being in place to recover at least R37 million of that money. President Ramaphosa has said that he is awaiting the report from the Special Investigations Unit.