As the skeletons come tumbling out of the cupboards, new brooms are said to be on the ready. This is the picture that has been presented by the news doing the rounds in the political circles as it emmerges that Dr Zweli Mkhize, also known as Khabazela, may be on his way out. This has been cemented by the fact that sources close to the president have indicated that Ramaphosa is considering two women, both of whom have close links with the Health Department, to replace the health minister.
This, following the debacle with Digital Vibes, a communications company that was awarded a contract worth R150 million and which is under investigation by the Special Investigation Unit. It has emerged that Khabazela’s son benefitted several times from payments that were made into his account by the company and that renovations to one property that is owned by Mkhize’s trust were paid for by the company. Even though Mkhize has denied any wrongdoing, as well as the fact that he benefitted from the awarding of the tender, George Mashaba, the chairperson of the ANC’s Integrity Commission said on Monday that he had received a letter from Mkhize indicating that he would appear before it.
According to inside sources in the ANC, Ramaphosa is looking for someone who will be able to take over the reins once Mkhize resigns and his eyes have fallen on two individuals, both ladies with a high pedigree in the ruling party. The first of these is Dr. Gwen Ramokgoba, who is the former Gauteng MEC for Health. She is well known for replacing Qedani Mahlangu after the death of more than 94 patients in the Life Esidimbeni debacle in 2017. She is a member of the National Working Committee, where she replaced Nomaindia Mfeketo.
Another of the candidates that Ramaphosa is toying with is none other than his former opponent in the run-up to being elected ANC president, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. According to an insider in the party’s NEC, Dlamini-Zuma is the most likely candidate as she has a lot of valuable experience in both the health sector as well as in the African safari. She was the first health minister from 1994 to 1999 in the Mandela administration and was also appointed to the African Union commission office between 2012 and 2017. According to an insider in the ANC, this makes Dlamini-Zuma the most likely candidate to be appointed by the president. “The continent wants to band together in responding to Covid-19. What we have seen much clearer than before is the need to foster our own responses, because the first world does not help us. She has sat in these meetings; she knows the players; she knows the continent intimately because of her time in the AU; and, most importantly, she knows our health system. We would be fools not to consider her,” said the informant.