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.