The former minister of health, Dr. Zweli Mkhize, will not find it easy to make a comeback into mainstream politics after his resignation from his ministerial post amid corruption allegations.

This is according to political analysts Dr. Metji Makgoba and Professor Kgothatso Shai.

“It will be difficult for Ramaphosa to recycle Mkhize by appointing him to a major political office because the available evidence showed that he may have benefitted (both directly or indirectly) from the R150m tender. He will probably remain an NEC member,” Dr. Makgoba said.

“Mkhize is no longer important to President Ramaphosa, he is now a disposable liability. Mkhize is compromised. Ramaphosa cannot afford to have cronies who are in trouble with the law in his camp. This would weaken his usually dishonest rhetoric,” added Dr. Makgoba.

Dr. Mkhize only resigned from his ministerial post and remains to be a member of the National Executive Committee (NEC).

Dr. Mkhize tendered his resignation shortly before President Cyril Ramaphosa announced his cabinet reshuffle which took place early this month. This is after the former health minister was implicated in the irregular awarding of R150m communication tender which was given to Digital Vibes, a company linked to Dr. Mkhize’s associates.

The former minister met the party’s Integrity Committee after President Ramaphosa issued instructions to the Special Investigative Unit (SIU) to probe the company, Digital Vibes.

Just before resigning, President Ramaphosa placed the health minister on special leave some three months ago due to involvement in the awarding of the tender.

Aiming to clear his name, Dr. Mkhize met with the party’s Integrity Committee but failed to convince them that the allegations of corruption were farfetched.

The SIU, in its findings, has revealed how the health minister’s son, Dedani Mkhize, became a role player in this bonanza. According to the new information contained in the new documents filed by the SIU at Special Tribunal, Dedani Mkhize repeatedly met with Digital Vibes director Radha Hariram at a fuel station in Stanger in Kwazulu-Natal, where he allegedly collected cash directly linked to the DoH contract.

The second-biggest party, Democratic Alliance (DA), called for Dr. Mkhize to be criminally probed, “Not only should Mkhize be fired, but he must also be criminally investigated and face the full might of the law should he be found guilty,” DA’s Health shadow minister Siviwe Gwarube said.

The SIU’s argument is that the contract was obtained unlawfully and should be set aside by the competent court of law. 

The ambitious unit also wants to recover the entire R150m from an array of first, second and third-tier recipients of the alleged loot, including Dedani and Zweli Mkhize, and from the scheme’s alleged masterminds, Tahera Mather and Naadhira Mitha.

Congress of the People (COPE)  lamented Ramaphosa for inaction, “President Ramaphosa is facing a serious dilemma because there is an indication that more of his Ministers will be exposed with serious corruption, and in fact, some of them were already named at the Zondo Commission,” COPE’s national spokesman Dennis Bloem said.

“It is very clear that there is no political will from President Ramaphosa because he has compromised himself. He does not know where to start. It is possible that the entire leadership will be sent to jail,” Bloem added.

An independent political analyst Dr. Ralph Mathekga said “the Mkhize matter is quite a test for Ramaphosa’s anti-corruption drive; President Ramaphosa is reacting to the Mkhize matter with too much circumspect, it is inevitable that Mkhize will have to be replaced and that the Ramaphosa should be seen taking charge and resolving this matter,” Mathekga said.

Mathekga’s sentiments were echoed by the University of Limpopo’s senior political science lecturer and researcher, Professor Kgothatso Shai, “while these reports confirm the systemic nature of corruption in SA, what is more concerning is that the alleged enablers are linked to those who are generally viewed as an integral part of the anti-corruption crusade. The fact that the funds siphoned in this case were meant to wage an offensive against Covid-19 can best be understood within the context of the general moral decay in the country,” Professor Shai said.

“It is obvious that such revelations can only harm the efforts towards unity, cohesion, and renewal of the ANC,” Professor Shai added.

The ANC adopted a “step-aside” resolution which seeks to be a measure in fighting corruption; the resolution was adopted in the 2017 ANC Nasrec Conference. The resolution has so far affected senior party leaders from Ace Magashule to Zandile Gumede, is Mkhize going to be added to the list?

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Kenneth Mokgatlhe

Kenneth Mokgatlhe is a political and social commentator.

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