South Africa’s health minister put on special leave over graft allegations

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South African President Cyril Ramaphosa put his well being minister, Zweli Mkhize, on particular depart on Tuesday, after allegations that his division irregularly awarded COVID-19-related contracts to a communications firm managed by his former associates.

Earlier than Ramaphosa’s assertion, the minister apologised for the general public rage over the allegations, the newest in a collection linked to coronavirus-related tenders which have angered a public struggling pandemic-induced financial hardship. Mkhize has denied any private wrongdoing.

Ramaphosa, who has promised that graft throughout the COVID-19 pandemic shall be handled harshly, mentioned the particular depart would allow Mkhize to reply an investigation into contracts between his division and repair supplier Digital Vibes.

Mkhize mentioned: “I absolutely acknowledge and take private duty for the general public outrage that has been brought on by this Digital Vibes contract.”

“The adverse discourse has … tainted the staff work of our authorities that’s led by the president in our continued efforts to battle COVID-19. … For all of this I need to unreservedly apologise,” he added.

South African Well being Minister Zweli Mkhize receives the Johnson and Johnson coronavirus illness (COVID-19) vaccination on the Khayelitsha Hospital close to Cape City, South Africa, February 17, 2021. Gianluigi Guercia/REUTERS

Minister of Tourism Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane will function appearing minister of well being till additional discover, Ramaphosa’s workplace mentioned.

The Particular Investigating Unit has mentioned a probe it’s conducting is nearing completion. The report shall be given to Ramaphosa to resolve on additional motion.

In Might, Mkhize mentioned a forensic investigation had discovered that the method of appointing Digital Vibes, headed by his former private assistant and secretary, was irregular, as was greater than 150 million rand ($11 million) paid to the agency.

Every day Maverick, which first broke information of the contract in February, mentioned the agency was appointed in late 2019 to supply communications companies for the federal government’s Nationwide Well being Insurance coverage roll-out.

The scope of labor was prolonged in March 2020 to incorporate COVID-19-related communication.

($1 = 13.5644 rand)

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