Not so long ago, former Health Minister Dr. Zweli Mkhize was the face of the government's fight against Covid-19, applauded widely for doing a "great job", publishing daily Covid-19 infection and mortality rate statistics.
Little did we know that behind the scenes, according to SIU investigation findings, he was enabling and benefitting from the looting of Covid-19 public funds which were meant for the very Covid-19 fight he was spearheading.
Mkhize and his cronies who are implicated in the Digital Vibes corruption scandal are facing more trouble as they have been referred to the National Prosecuting Authority. The 18 implicated people who defrauded the country of millions of rands will be facing criminal charges.
Shockingly, the former acting Director-General Dr. Anban Pillay is amongst the 18 implicated people. It has been reported that Pillay paid Mkhize's associate Tahera Mather R800 per hour for PR services to the Department of Health around 2014 Mkhize became the minister of COGTA. According to SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago, Pillay's family also benefited from Mather's kickbacks.
Mkhize, who now joins the list of disgraced politicians has deflated a lot of people who were proud of him as he inspired them. Sadly, he has disgraced his name and this country beyond measure. A lot of people would have gotten the right messages at the right times if the communication budget was not stolen.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has placed him on a high pedestal regardless of his shenanigans and has stated that Mkhize has done a lot of good for the country despite the corruption allegations against him.
Zweli Mkhize said that he didn't know about the Digital Vibes contract, let alone benefit from it however, the SIU report indicates that he interfered with the department's financial affairs and approved budgets, and further ensured that Digital Vibes received the tender.
Digital vibes did nothing to educate people about Covid-19 and vaccines yet they received the R150 million communications tender. People lost jobs and their businesses because of an unending lockdown due to unequipped hospitals. Mkhize visited Steve Biko hospital and saw how packed the Covid-19 tent was but he chose to steal.
Today, whatever wave of Covid-19 we might face, the condition in hospitals is still the same. There have not been any improvements in hospitals. The hospitals are still understaffed because the government cannot afford to improve the conditions or hire more health workers. A minister milked his department's funds dry for the benefit of his family and friends. Corruption in South Africa has no bounds.
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