The big story: An unhealthy future for Mkhize?

How does a country manage a once-in-a-generation pandemic… with a health minister operating under a cloud? That’s the question SA must grapple with as the scandal around the once mighty health minister, Zweli Mkhize, intensifies. There’s been one revelation after another in the past few weeks by the Daily Maverick after it first broke the story of the department’s allegedly dodgy dealings in February. Now the pressure is on Mkhize to, you guessed it, step aside. 

To recap: the minister’s department paid about R150 million to a little-known company called Digital Vibes, allegedly controlled by his former personal assistants Tahera Mather and Naadhira Mitha. The name alone should have set off alarm bells: As Financial Mail columnist Chris Roper put it: “Who calls a company, set up to allegedly steal state money, Digital Vibes? It sounds like a 1980s porn series about people dressed as dancing sex toys.” 🤣

Mkhize said the contract was irregular but that he did not personally benefit from it; the Daily Maverick’s latest investigations, however, allege that money went from Digital Vibes to Mkhize’s son and towards work on his own home.

So what now? 

  • The ANC’s integrity commission has asked Mkhize to explain himself.
  • Mkhize MAY even voluntarily step aside. But this is according to anonymous sources in News24, so nothing is guaranteed. 
  • Ramaphosa said he will take action after the Special Investigating Unit wraps up its report on the issue. 

Who will take his place? Former health ministers Dr Aaron Motsoaledi and Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma could be candidates, but neither are particularly popular with different quarters. 

Speaking of ANC leaders in the dwang, a quick update:

  • The ANC is gearing up for a huge legal battle with its suspended ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule. Both sides have hired heavyweight lawyers and a trio of top judges will hear the case at the end of June. 
  • The pre-hearing theatrics in former president Jacob Zuma’s arms deal trial continue. The hearing is now set for 19 July. 

Meanwhile, former president Thabo Mbeki slammed both Magashule and Zuma at an ANC meeting this week. He said he voted for the party under Zuma but couldn’t bring himself to campaign for it. You and every other abused ANC voter, Thabo. 

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 15 April 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates