Shilowa suggests Zweli Mkhize will lay low amid Digital Vibes scandal
Former Gauteng premier Mbhazima Shilowa has weighed in on health minister Zweli Mkhize’s alleged link to an allegedly corrupt tender awarded to Digital Vibes, suggesting the minister will lay low.
Mkhize’s department is accused of awarding Digital Vibes a tender worth R150m for communication regarding the National Health Insurance (NHI) rollout in 2019.
According to a Daily Maverick report, the company’s scope work was extended in March 2020 to include communications services during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Digital Vibes is owned by Mkhize’s long-serving personal spokesperson Tahera Mather and former personal assistant Naadira Mitha.
During a briefing on Wednesday, Mkhize denied benefiting personally from the contract. He also distanced himself from individuals implicated in the scandal, saying they were not his personal friends but comrades.
Shilowa suggested Mkhize will temporarily avoid public engagements.
“Comrade Zweli won’t do any walkabouts henceforth. It will have to be a virtual one,” he said
“The media must wait for him at every turn with one question: when are you doing the honourable thing?”
Comrade Zweli won’t do any walkabouts henceforth. It will have to be a virtual one. Media must wait for him at every turn with one question: When are you doing the honourable thing. Oh and Gwede. And oh what about as well yes.— Mbhazima Shilowa (@Enghumbhini) May 27, 2021
TimesLIVE reported that ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe dismissed calls for Mkhize to be removed from his position until the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has completed its investigation into the Digital Vibes scandal.
Calls for Mkhize to be suspended have been made by, among others, DA leader John Steenhuisen, AfriForum and UDM leader Bantu Holomisa.
“If we listen to Steenhuisen every time he says somebody must be fired, we would be left with nobody. Issues must be investigated. The call which should have been made was that of investigation instead,” said Mantashe.
Holomisa, who was speaking on eNCA, said corruption allegations against Mkhize were “too much” and he should resign immediately.
“If the balance of probability is sufficient enough, he should go, resign immediately. We don’t know the policy of step-aside when a politician serves in a government institution or is a cabinet minister,” said Holomisa.
The DA called for Mkhize to step down from his position pending a full SIU investigation.
“The minister cannot be both the player and referee in an investigation that involves him directly. He must 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,” said the party.