President Cyril Ramaphosa placed Health Minister Zweli Mkhize on special leave on Tuesday so he can attend to allegations levelled against him in the Digital Vibes debacle, the Presidency said.
“This period of special leave will enable the minister to attend to allegations and investigations concerning contracts between the Department of Health and a service provider, Digital Vibes,” the Presidency said in a statement.
“The Special Investigating Unit is investigating this matter and the president awaits a report on the outcome of this probe.”
The Presidency said Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane will serve as acting Minister of Health until further notice.
Digital Vibes was awarded a R150m contract by the department for communications work that had initially focused on the National Health Insurance scheme but was later expanded to include Covid-19 communications.
The company is accused of inflating prices and doing work that the department could do internally.
As more allegations against Mkhize surfaced, political parties called for his head.
Conceding that the R150m contract was irregular, Mkhize claimed he had not personally benefited from it and that he did not declare a conflict of interest because he believed there was none.
However, according to reports, the communications firm allegedly paid for maintenance at a property owned by Mkhize’s family trust.