Health Minister Zweli Mkhize on ‘special leave’
The ANC’s top leaders convinced Health Minister Zweli Mkhize to step aside temporarily pending an investigation into a communications contract handed to associates of his, arguing that this is necessary to defend the credibility of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s reform agenda, reported BusinessDay (9 June 2021). The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) is probing a R150-m contract awarded to Digital Vibes, a recently obscure outfit headed by his former personal assistant and former secretary.
Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane has been appointed as acting Health Minister.
“It is understood that Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi and Co-operative Governance Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma - who are both medical doctors and previously held the post - were deliberately overlooked because Mkhize’s possible exit will signal an opportunity for Ramaphosa to reshuffle his entire cabinet and introduce new blood.”
*Shortly before he was placed on special leave Mkhize urged the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) and the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to resolve their problems for the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccination rollout to continue.
Meanwhile the European Medicines Agency and SAHPRA are waiting on the FDA findings regarding contamination issues at the US-based J&J contractor Emergent BioSolutions.