Parliament’s Health Committee will investigate whether it is possible for Health Minister, Zweli Mkhize, to appear before it despite him having been placed on special leave. President Cyril Ramaphosa took the step pending an investigation by the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) into a multi-million-rand tender awarded to communications company, Digital Vibes.

It Is alleged that the owners of the company have links to Mkhize. Before being placed on special leave, Mkhize declined to appear before the committee after seeking legal advice. Parliament’s legal services say there is no reason preventing the institution from fulfilling its oversight mandate.

Opposition MPs say there is no reason why Minister Mkhize should not appear before them to answer questions about Digital Vibes. This follows advise from one of Parliament’s senior legal advisors, Siviwe Njikela, that the institution should not be prevented from doing its work.

ANC MP, Thabo Munayi, says it would be impossible to get a Minister to account when another Minister has been appointed to fulfil those duties.

“The legal advisor at this meeting, in event where Minister is on leave, he said “I’m not sure” if the legal mind is unsure, I will propose the legal advice continue to consult more and come back with conclusive view.”

Mkhize’s briefing on Digital Vibes issue:

 

Parliament’s Health Committee Chairperson, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, says he will seek further legal advice on the matter.

“In terms of this other part you want us to relook legalities to get a Minister on top of another Minister, I will also get an advice on that, outside of this meeting,” he told MPs.

The Digital Vibes scandal comes as the Health Department says it is concerned about the rising COVID-19 infections.

Acting Health Minister, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane says: “We have entered the 3rd wave as country and it is what is worry us now. Look at last night’s report. GP (Gauteng Province) is our major concern. We can call it that the fires are burning in GP.”

Nursing unions concerned about COVID-19 third wave: