Zweli Mkhize: I drew lessons from Digital Vibes scandal

Zweli Mkhize: I drew lessons from Digital Vibes scandal

Zweli Mkhize: I drew lessons from Digital Vibes scandal

ANC presidential candidate and former health minister Zweli Mkhize, who resigned amid the Digital Vibes scandal, says he has learnt lessons from the irregular tender.

Speaking during an interview with television channel Newsroom Afrika, Mkhize admitted that he was concerned that his family members had been found to have benefitted from the proceeds of the tender, which the Special Investigative Unit (SIU) claims was irregularly awarded to individuals linked to Mkhize by the Department of Health.

While Mkhize maintained that his family members were not part of the tender, he said the fact that the tender was awarded during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic when, as health minister, he was criss-crossing the country, made it difficult for him to monitor things closely.

It happened when I was very busy and not focusing. We must accept that there will always be sensitivities when family members of the cabinet receive such benefits. I have learnt lessons from this
The National Assembly ethics committee held that Mkhize, who denies that he personally benefitted from the proceeds of the tender, could not be held responsible for benefits extended to his family members by the individuals controlling Digital Vibes.

The tender, which was worth R150 million, was for communicating the work being done by the department on Covid-19.

In its report, the SIU claimed that the tender was awarded despite the fact that Mkhize was aware of a cabinet resolution stipulating that all Covid-19 communications-related work should be undertaken by the Government Communications and Information Systems (GCIS).

However, Mkhize said the SIU has since conceded that it did not have the minutes of the cabinet meeting where the resolution was taken. “That cabinet resolution which the SIU relied on doesn’t exist,” he said.

Mkhize, who is challenging the SIU report in court, said the unit’s decision to probe the tender was correct.

When the SIU launched an investigation into the tender, Mkhize said, he had already, as health minister at the time, ordered an internal probe on the matter.

A former KwaZulu-Natal premier, Mkhize is among the senior ANC members, including former AU chairperson, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and President Cyril Ramaphosa, who will be vying for the ANC president position at the upcoming party national conference, scheduled for December.

Mkhize’s supporters within the ANC have claimed that the SIU’s investigation was part of a strategy by his opponents to kick him out of the ANC leadership race. While Mkhize maintained that the SIU did the right thing by investigating the Digital Vibes tender, he said the unit’s findings were “suspicious”.

I have a problem with the way they structured the report. This has caused suspicions that there is something beyond just investigating a tender Mkhize, who was the ANC treasurer-general between 2012 to 2017, said if elected he would address problems ranging from divisions to weak leadership.

“I believe I can bring unity,” he said. One of the reasons contributing to divisions within the ANC, Mkhize said, was that factions supporting various candidates during the build-up to the 2017 party national conference were left intact long after the conference.

As a result, Mkhize said, the dominant faction in the ANC assumed the role of bullying party members perceived to be part of the other factions.

While all ANC members have a role to play, Mkhize said the responsibility to unite the party resides within the party’s leadership. “I believe I can bring unity,” he said.

On ANC policies, Mkhize said the ANC leadership had not pushed hard enough for the full implementation of the party’s policies, which the former health minister said were “good policies”.

“What is required is decisive leadership when it comes to the implementation of the ANC policies,” he said. Mkhize, who has significant support in his home province of KZN, is currently making inroads in other ANC provinces.

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