Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize was placed on special leave. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)
Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize was placed on special leave. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

ANC integrity commission is still waiting on Zweli Mkhize to appear

By Baldwin Ndaba Time of article published Jun 15, 2021

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Johannesburg - The ANC Integrity Commission is still waiting on Health Minister Zweli Mkhize to appear before it, to answer to allegations of his involvement in the awarding of a R150 million tender to Digital Vibes, a company owned by his close allies.

Two weeks ago, Mkhize wrote to the integrity commission, indicating his intention to appear before it – the ethics body, comprising of party veteran leaders and led by former Robben Islander George Mashamba.

The commission meets every Saturday to hear ethical issues with members involving its senior party leaders but Mkhize, despite making promises to appear, is yet to find a suitable date for him.

One of the commissioners on day confirmed that Mkhize has not made his first appearance.

“He has not appeared yet before the committee. The matter is handled by our secretariat. The delay has been due to the parties failing to find a suitable date for him (Dr Zweli Mkhize) to appear,” one of the commissioners said.

Mashamba was not available to comment. Mkhize is expected to answer to allegations that he signed off the R150m contract awarded to Digital Vibes, owned by his former private assistant Tahera Mather and former spokesperson Naadhira Mitha.

The DA’s health spokesperson Siviwe Gwarube alleges that Mkhize personally signed off on the submission that contained the contract, saying that it was in direct contravention of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act (POCCA section 3) and, specifically, section 12 and 13 – which relate to acts of service offered or accepted in exchange for government contracts and tenders.

In addition, Gwarube said, the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) explicitly stated that the signing off of any contracts was the function of the accounting officer and not the executive authority – as was allegedly the case with Mkhize.

According to Gwarube: “The highly irregular abuse of political power by Minister Mkhize is underscored by emerging evidence that the company in question, Digital Vibes, carried out maintenance projects at the minister’s home and money was directly channelled to Minister Mkhize’s son, Dedani Mkhize.”

But since the emergence of these allegations, Mkhize maintained that he had not personally benefited from the contract and dismissed allegations against him.

He, however, during his last official duties in Kimberley – prior to being placed on special leave last week – admitted that he later learnt that Digital Vibes paid for maintenance work at his house.

“This made me quite unhappy and we had to sit down as a family and had a conversation that this kind of relationship was inappropriate, and all these funds need to be returned,” Mkhize told the media in Kimberley.

Adding more to his woes, Mkhize may face new allegations of being a dishonest member of Parliament if the DA goes ahead with its threat to report him to the Parliament’s Ethics Committee. In November last year, he told DA’s former health spokesperson Lindy Wilson that the Digital Vibes tender was legal and had the approval of the national Treasury.

In January this year, he changed his tune, following a series of media exposes which forced him to appoint a forensic team, to conduct an investigation into the award of the tender.

The investigation team, on May 26, found the award to be irregular – a flagrant contradiction to Mkhize’s Parliamentary reply to MP Wilson. Now, the Parliament Ethics Committee will, if approached, be expected to rule if Mkhize’s conduct is in line with Parliamentary ruled.

The Special Investigative Unit (SIU), which is also probing the R150m tender, is expected to conclude its report by the end of this month.

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Political Bureau

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