WATCH | Outrage over Ramaphosa's praise of Zweli Mkhize amid SIU report
President Cyril Ramaphosa, during a rare sit-down interview on September 29 2021, defended asked the media to be considerate to former health minister Zweli Mkhize after a damning SIU report on the Digital Vibes contract with the department of health.
President Cyril Ramaphosa's defence of former health minister Zweli Mkhize has rubbed many the wrong way, with some questioning why Ramaphosa would “endorse” an allegedly corrupt official.
The president of the ANC on Wednesday told journalists that Mkhize served SA well from the start of the pandemic to his resignation, emanating from the Digital Vibes scandal.
Ramaphosa was responding to a question about why he thanked Mkhize for his services during a national address in which he announced a cabinet reshuffle.
He said South Africans need to be “considerate” of the fact Mkhize “has served the nation well”.
“Much as we want to be gung-ho and send people to the gallows, we do need to recognise some of the things they have done. Minister Mkhize has served the nation well. We were able to navigate our way around the pandemic because of his experience and having served also in other positions,” said Ramaphosa.
The president said Mkhize did the honourable thing by resigning from his position as health minister.
“My acceptance of his resignation should tell you my approach and the stance I am determined to take on all these matters,” he said.
Ramaphosa authorised the publication of the damning Special Investigating Unit report which looked into the Digital Vibes scandal.
Among the revelations contained in the report is that Mkhize was directly involved in pushing for the approval of the R150m tender which was awarded to Digital Vibes. The communications company handled NHI-related campaigns and subsequently Covid-19.
The report recommended, among other things, the government blacklist Digital Vibes from doing any work with the state and former health department acting director-general Dr Anban Pillay be criminally prosecuted for financial misconduct.
Ramaphosa said it's important to follow due process when dealing with implicated officials, to ensure the matter is handled with fairness and individuals are given the opportunity to respond.
“There should be consequence management but it should be based on a measure of good fairness,” he said.
Here are some of the responses to the president's statement:
Mkhize stole from the nation in its hour of deepest need and Ramaphosa says 'he served the national well'. Unbelievable— Mpolitic-ou (@MpoliticOu) September 30, 2021
Is it possible to acknowledge that Dr. Zweli Mkhize did a good job in mobilizing the country to deal with Covid at the beginning and expertly helped prepare South Africa to access vaccines whilst at the same agreeing that he was corrupt wrt Digital Vibes?— Bohani Hlungwane-Xidumu (@Bohani21) September 29, 2021
Ramaphosa thinks that even though there is the damning SIU report, Mkhize "served the nation well".— Muzamana Victor (@Muzamana_Victor) September 29, 2021
GM SA .Must acknowledge Ramaphosa's response to the SIU report which directly implicates the former Minister of Health in the Digital Vibes contract ..R 150 million later and Ramaphosa says Mkhize 'served the nation well ' .Guess that tells one all one needs to know. Party first— Just Garth (@_Calculator) September 30, 2021
So Cyril Ramaphosa defends Zweli Mkhize saying "He served the people well", and on the other he says we should give them another chance. The ANC will always come 1st before South Africans. Sies, how disgraceful. #VoetsekANC #ZweliMkhize #DigitalVibes #CR17BankStatements— Oarabile Tshwagong (@oarabile44) September 29, 2021