Independent Online

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Like us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterView weather by locationView market indicators

Mkhize lobby respond to arrest rumours: ‘Plot to eliminate former minister before elective conference’

Former Minster of Health Zweli Mkhize. File Picture

Former Minster of Health Zweli Mkhize. File Picture

Published May 12, 2022


DURBAN - FORMER minister Zweli Mkhize’s lobbyists believe reports of his imminent arrest are part of an elaborate scheme to influence public opinion and to hide a political plot to abuse law-enforcement agencies to get him arrested and charged to eliminate him from the ANC presidential race.

Recent media reports suggested that an arrest related to the Digital Vibes scandal was imminent, saying that law-enforcement authorities were in the late stages of their investigation and there was a possibility this could lead to criminal charges.

Story continues below Advertisement

According to his supporters, Mkhize, who is now an ordinary MP, has significant support in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape in his bid to become president of the ANC at the national elective conference in December.

Tourism minister Lindiwe Sisulu has also put forth her bid to become the party’s leader.

Asked about the imminent arrest reports, Mkhize’s communication adviser Vuyo Mkhize said “underhanded machinations” were being used as part of a broader plot to eliminate Mkhize in the run-up to the elective conference.

Story continues below Advertisement

“Anyone can tell that the recent amendment of the ANC step aside resolution to bar those facing charges from standing at the upcoming ANC national conference was cooked up with Dr Mkhize in mind,” he said.

Asked about an arrest list circulating on social media that contains the former minister’s name, the adviser said: “We are also aware of the arrest list you are talking about … a list of ANC leaders who have been targeted for arrest with the same objective in mind.

“One thing we are certain of, however, is that there is no way this planned arrest will be happening, any time soon, as the state has absolutely nothing to work with other than the nonsensical findings of the SIU (Special Investigating Unit) report which Mkhize is challenging before the North Gauteng High Court,” he said.

Story continues below Advertisement

The ANC National Executive Committee, the party’s highest decision-making body, last month issued a statement saying that any member who had been suspended following an indictment to appear in a court of law on any charge should not be allowed to stand for a leadership position, including at the national elective conference.

Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Thandi Mbambo said the investigation of Digital Vibes was at an advanced stage. “We won’t comment on arrests and we will not release the names of subjects of investigations,” she said.

Political analyst Professor Sipho Seepe said the ANC had reached a stage where it had degenerated and no longer represented the brand.

Story continues below Advertisement

“Now we see the use of state organs and institutions to remove people who are challenging the incumbent. The notice of charges is a State function which is being used to eliminate potential challengers.”

Seepe said the State should operate separately from ANC challenges but those in power were controlling who was charged, and who was not.

“There is bias if you say those who support me will be protected,” Seepe said, adding that the party was only focused on leadership and that policies and “people are simply an afterthought”.

Last month, Parliament’s joint ethics and members’ interests committee said that Mkhize was cleared of flouting the code of ethics for MPs and allegedly benefiting from the Digital Vibes contract.

The committee, responding to a complaint laid by the DA’s Siviwe Gwarube, said Mkhize cannot be held liable for his son Dedani’s business dealings with Digital Vibes.

Mkhize resigned as Minister of Health last August, when he was implicated in the irregular awarding of contracts to Digital Vibes, which was linked to people who worked with him at the department, the Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Department and the ANC.

The SIU was asked to investigate and found the department irregularly awarded the R141 million media awareness campaign tender for the National Health Insurance (NHI) and another R125m tender for Covid-19 when Mkhize was the health minister. An SIU report tabled before Scopa (the standing committee on public accounts) said Mkhize approved two budget applications for Digital Vibes for the NHI communication.

Mkhize has gone to court to have the SIU report reviewed and set aside.


Related Topics: