Health Minister Zweli Mkhize. File picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency(ANA)
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize. File picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency(ANA)

Digital Vibes scandal: Cabinet won’t be dragged into Zweli Mkhize step-aside debate

By Siyabonga Mkhwanazi Time of article published May 27, 2021

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Cape Town - The Cabinet has refused to be drawn on whether Health Minister Zweli Mkhize should step aside over the Digital Vibes contract saga.

Acting Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said on Thursday that the matter was between President Cyril Ramaphosa and Mkhize.

Digital Vibes, which is linked to Tahera Mather, Mkhize’s former assistant, and his former spokesperson, Naadhira Mitha, was awarded a R150m contract for communications work. The deal had initially focused on the NHI but was expanded last year to include Covid-19 communication work for the Department of Health.

Mkhize this week denied that he benefited from the contract. However, he said, the Special Investigating Unit will probe the contract, which was originally for R35 million.

Ntshavheni said the Cabinet does not get involved in these matters, and already investigations were under way.

She also denied that the department of health would be investigating itself in this case, saying law enforcement agencies would be probing the contracts.

“We would like to give them space to do that work and allow them to conclude their investigations, and take appropriate decisions in terms of prosecution or non-prosecution. Therefore, whether the minister steps aside or does not step aside is not a decision that the Cabinet will express itself on. It’s a discussion that must take place between the minister and the president to the extent of the matter,” said Ntshavheni.

She said the Cabinet would not be drawn on matters that fell under the scope of law enforcement agencies.

“It’s not the scope of the Cabinet to discuss matters that are under investigation by law enforcement agencies. It’s the work of the law enforcement agencies that must take their course. But the minister of health yesterday held a briefing that explained his whole position and that of the department of health. It’s not the place of the Cabinet to discuss that. It is to allow law enforcement agencies to conclude their investigations and do what is necessary from the outcome of those investigations,” said Ntshavheni.

Political Bureau

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