Activism

Media Statement: TAC welcomes the resignation of Zweli Mkhize as Minister of Health

Media Statement: TAC welcomes the resignation of Zweli Mkhize as Minister of Health

Urges the State to pursue criminal charges
Welcomes the appointment of Joe Paahla as the new Minister of Health

Johannesburg, 5 August 2021 – The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) welcomes the resignation of Dr Zweli Mkhize as Minister of Health, effective today. We express our disappointment, having been quietly optimistic when he took over in 2019. We lament that it took as long as it did to effect this change, given the mountain of evidence and allegations against him and others implicated in the Digital Vibes saga.

Anele Yawa, the General Secretary of the TAC said, “it is shocking that at least a whopping R90 million in “suspicious payments” were made from the irregular R150 million tender contract. Should this money not have been thought necessary for it’s stated purposes, it surely could have helped pay for life-saving drugs as part of buffer stock to provinces from the National Department of Health, as we have dire stockouts of ARVs, contraceptives and vaccines for children. It could have also helped pay for additional community healthcare workers and nurses, given the shortages of staff.”

“It is unforgivable that a Minister of Health could allegedly take R1 Million meant for saving people’s lives and use it for the establishment of an upmarket salon, particularly during an unprecedented pandemic”, said Sibongile Tshabalala, the National Chairperson of the TAC.

While we have seen other politicians such as Brian Hlongwa and private actors who are/were Directors of companies such as 3P Consulting, Baoki Consortium, Kemsing Services and Ukwakwa Design, which were implicated in tender irregularities of R1,2 Billion during the former’s tenure as MEC for Health in Gauteng get away scot-free until today, we call on the law enforcement authorities to:

– ensure that all irregular funds from the Digital Vibes communications contract are recouped.
– we call on all parties involved to face all the legal consequences of their actions, including criminal prosecution.
– we call on the ANC to show a zero tolerance approach towards corruption by ensuring that Dr Zweli Mkhize faces the Integrity Commission and possible expulsion from the party.

We welcome the appointment of Dr. Joe Phaahla as the new Minister of Health. He has extensive experience in the health care sector, having ably served as a Deputy Minister. We call on him to bring stability to the department through radically improving the immunisation programme; setting up an internal anti-corruption unit that works together with law enforcement agencies and addressing the dire human resources for health.

We thank the SIU and other law enforcement agencies for diligently doing the spade work needed in order to unearth the mountains of evidence in the Digital Vibes case. We also acknowledge the media, in particular Daily Maverick’s Scorpio for their sterling reporting on this.

Lastly, we also note and celebrate the resignation of Tito Mboweni as Finance Minister. We hope that the new Minister, Enoch Godongwana, will desist from austerity budgeting and prioritise socio-economic rights. We commit ourselves to taking part in the budget processes to highlight the need for adequate and effective funding for health.

For media engagement, please contact:

Ngqabutho Mpofu (Advocacy and Communications Manager): 072 225 9675 or via email ngqabutho.mpofu@tac.org.za.www517.jnb3.host-h.net