What you said: Zweli Mkhize's time as health minister will be remembered for Digital Vibes kickbacks

10 October 2021 - 14:00
Former health minister Zweli Mkhize was implicated in a SIU report on a dodgy communications tender given to Digital Vibes.
Former health minister Zweli Mkhize was implicated in a SIU report on a dodgy communications tender given to Digital Vibes.

Readers have weighed in on former health minister Zweli Mkhize's legacy, claiming his time as health minister will always be remembered for the corrupt Digital Vibes tender scandal.

Mkhize earned praise from around the world for leading SA through much of the troubled first year of the Covid-19 pandemic, but found his image tainted by corruption allegations.

A Special Investigating Unit (SIU) report last week implicated him in a dodgy communications tender awarded to Digital Vibes.

Evidence presented in the report found Mkhize had a conflict of interest, as “his friends or associates under the guise of Digital Vibes were unlawfully and irregularly appointed” by the department to oversee media campaigns for the NHI system and Covid-19 communications. 

It found that Mkhize’s family members, including his son, Dedani Mkhize, his former associates and family members of such former associates, benefited unduly from the tender.

It added that Mkhize “failed to declare any such actual or potential conflicts of interest to the presidency”, and it was recommended that President Cyril Ramaphosa take executive action against the former minister.

“At best this conduct on the part of the minister was improper, and at worst the conduct of the minister was unlawful.”

The minister has distanced himself from any wrongdoing and said those implicated were not his friends.

Ramaphosa said despite the scandal, Mkhize “has served the nation well”.

“Much as we want to be gung-ho and send people to the gallows, we do need to recognise some of the things they have done. Minister Mkhize has served the nation well. We were able to navigate our way around the pandemic because of his experience and having served also in other positions,” said Ramaphosa.

However, readers did not agree.

In a poll asking for their thoughts on Mkhize’s legacy, most (74%) said he would be remembered for allegedly giving “his pals tenders for kickbacks”.

20% said he had led the country well through the pandemic, while 6% asked who he was.

On social media, readers were scathing in their criticism of the former minister.

“Government hospitals are rubbish, no staff, dirty, etc. I think that says it all about Mkhize,” said Grant Patrick Murphy.

“Disaster, disgrace, deadly,” added Tokoloho Mongalo.

Marshal Murumbi-Zhanje said Mkhize will be remembered as “the guy that stole money meant for the poor in the midst of a pandemic”, while Wolfpack Lefa said he will go down as “one of the useless ministers”.

“He was more popular than the president,” wrote Thembinkosi M Mabaso.