CAPE TOWN - Former health minister Zweli Mkhize has been cleared of flouting the code of ethics for MPs and allegedly benefiting from the Digital Vibes contract.
This emerged in an announcement by Parliament’s joint ethics and members’ interests committee on Tuesday night following its meeting on Monday.
Committee co-chairpersons Bhekizwe Nkosi and Lydia Moshodi said they found that Mkhize did not breach the code on the two accounts of allegations that were levelled against him.
DA MP Siviwe Gwarube had lodged a complaint in two parts, alleging that the former minister’s son received benefits from Digital Vibes to the value of R300 000 and R160 000 and that Mkhize received benefits from the company to the tune of R6720 for electrical work done at his property in Bryanston.
“In respect to part one, the committee noted that the code of ethical conduct and disclosures of members' interests for assembly and permanent council members defines immediate family member as ‘a member’s spouse, permanent companion or dependent’.
“Thus, Dr Mkhize’s son doesn’t fall within the confines of immediate family member as per the code, as the son is an adult male who is not financially dependent on the member,” Nkosi and Moshodi said.
They also said the committee has considered the documentary evidence and concluded that Thamsanqa Mkhize was the person who liaised with four-way Maintenance and was charged with making payments totalling R6720.
“It is on this basis that the committee found that Dr Mkhize did not breach the Code of Ethical conduct and disclosures of Members Interests.
“The committee considers the matter closed,” Nkosi and Moshodi said.
Gwarube was dismayed by the finding of the joint ethics committee.
“It is deeply disappointing that the ethics committee would arrive at the conclusion that the alleged funnelling of money to the former health minister’s son isn’t a violation of the ethics code,” she said.
“The sections of the code were applied so narrowly that it excludes the minister’s son as an undue beneficiary on the basis that he’s an adult and not dependent on Dr Mkhize financially.
“This finding is seemingly at odds with the spirit of the code and provisions of it by this narrow application,” she said.
Gwarube also noted that Mkhize remained an MP and said her party would monitor closely the outcomes of the Hawks investigation and take steps in relation to that.
Mkhize resigned as the minister when he was implicated in the irregular awarding of the contract to Digital Vibes, which was linked to people who worked with him at the department, the ANC and Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Department.
The Special Investigating Unit found in its investigation that the department irregularly awarded the R141 million media awareness campaign tender for the National Health Insurance and another R125m tender for Covid-19 when Mkhize was the department’s head.
A SIU report tabled before the standing committee on public accounts said Mkhize had approved two budget applications for Digital Vibes for the NHI communication.
Mkhize, who is now an ordinary MP, is embroiled in a legal tussle to have the SIU report reviewed and set aside.