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Ramaphosa ‘disturbed’ by health tender corruption

After initially declining to comment on a multi-million-dollar corrupt tender award allegation against Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, South African President…

After initially declining to comment on a multi-million-dollar corrupt tender award allegation against Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday described the issue now in the public domain as “serious and disturbing.”According to press reports, Mkhize’s office awarded a US$10.7-million tender to a company called Digital Vibes without following laid-down procedures for such transactions.

The allegations against the minister are that Digital Vibes reportedly paid for maintenance at a property owned by Mkhize’s family trust, transferred US$20,000 to All Out Trading, an entity in which Mkhize’s son is a director, and bought a Toyota Land Cruiser vehicle for him.

While the minister denies any wrong-doing in the “irregular awarding” of the tender, he has admitted to have knowledge of the tender being awarded to Digital Vibes — a development that has prompted the opposition to call on the president to sack him from cabinet.

The minister, however, said legal action was underway to retrieve the money awarded to Digital Vibes.

“We have been legally advised that we cannot fully disclose the details of the report and plan of action,” Mkhize said.

Ramaphosa, however, asked the public to be patient till the investigating agencies have completed their work in the matter concerning one of his closest ministers in the cabinet who is currently leading the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

But following the receipt of some of the investigating agencies’ preliminary reports, the president has decided to make a statement to ease public pressure on the issue.

“While it is disheartening to read on a daily basis about corruption allegations, it is significant that now, much of what is in the public domain, is a result of work being done by institutions such as the Security Intelligence Unit, the Hawks (police crack unit), the National Prosecuting Authority, the Auditor General, and others,” Ramaphosa said.

He added: “Institutions charged with uncovering and prosecuting corruption are doing what is expected of them.”

Ramaphosa said he discussed the allegations with Mkhize, who was fully cooperating on the matter with the investigation authorities.

Ruling African National Congress’ spokesperson Pule Mabe said South Africans should take comfort in knowing the matter was being discussed and probed by the agencies.

“The comfort that we should have is that the president said that conversation is taking place. That should be saying to all South Africans that we, as party and government, are paying attention to the issue,” Mabe said. 

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