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South African Health minister sent on 'special leave' over Covid-19 scandal

Wednesday June 09 2021
Phosa

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses a media conference at the end of the BRICS Summit in Johannesburg on July 27, 2018. PHOTO | AFP

By PETER DUBE

South Africa's Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has been suspended over allegations concerning contracts between the Department of Health and a service provider, Digital Vibes.

President Cyril Ramaphosa's office on Tuesday confirmed the development, saying Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane will serve in acting capacity.

“This period of special leave will enable the minister to attend to allegations and investigations concerning contracts between the Department of Health and a service provider – Digital Vibes,” the presidency said.

“The Special Investigating Unit is investigating this matter and the President awaits a report on the outcome of this probe.”

Earlier, Mr Mkhize told journalists he had discussed with President Ramaphosa the possibility of taking special leave, but added that a resignation was not an option.

The Special Investigating Unit is investigating the R150 million contract, which an internal probe in the department found was irregularly awarded.

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Digital Vibes is run by two of Mr Mkhize's close associates and local media reported that the company made payments for repairs to a house owned by a trust in his name.

There was also a cash payment from Digital Vibes to his son, Dedani, as well as a car bought in his name.

According to Mr Mkhize, work has started to recover R37 million of that money, which was found to have been a fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

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