Minister Zweli Mkhize should step down over Digital Vibes multi-million rand contract

Please find attached soundbite by Siviwe Gwarube MP

This morning, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has confirmed that the reports which have been exposed by the Daily Maverick over the past months are accurate – the awarding of the Digital Vibes contract by the Department of Health was irregular as confirmed by the Auditor General.

This R150 million dubious contract was allegedly awarded to close associates of Dr Mkhize to provide communication services to him over the past year. This is despite the fact that many of these services should be provided by the Department and his ministry staff. The Auditor General flagged a number of irregularities including a possible conflict of interest with this contract.

It is now clear that this looting of public money has happened under the leadership of Dr Mkhize while there is a glaring conflict of interest. It cannot be that the very person entrusted with the Covid-19 response in the country is embroiled in this kind of scandal involving public money. Minister Mkhize should step down pending a full Special Investigative Unit (SIU) investigation.

The Minister cannot be both the player and referee in an investigation that involves him directly. He must simply step down to allow the independent investigation to take its course and for President Cyril Ramaphosa to give an update on who will be criminally charged and held accountable for this grand theft.

The DA has also called for President Ramaphosa to expand the scope of the SIU investigation to include the new information which has come to light. The internal departmental investigation is wholly inadequate and more work needs to be done in order to uncover the true extent of the rot in this scandal.

South Africa is in the middle of a deadly pandemic. A fraction of the population is yet to receive their vaccines with the system buckling under pressure very early in the process. We need a political head that is beyond reproach. It is clear that Minister Mkhize is no such leader and should be removed while this matter is dealt with without undue influence.

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