Former South African minister implicated in Covid corruption

A former South African health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has been implicated in a corruption scandal involving the awarding of a Covid-19 communication contract.

A probe by the country’s Special Investigating Unit (SIU) found Dr Zweli Mkhize guilty of “a distinct lack of oversight” over the contract worth around $10m (£7.4m).

Money from the deal was used to buy Dr Mkhize’s son a car, and he was also given around $20,000.

He has denied any wrongdoing.

The National Department of Health paid the company Digital Vibes for Covid-19 communications work – but the contract was authorised outside normal government regulations, according to the SIU report.

The report found that the real directors of Digital Vibes were two close associates of Dr Mkhize, even though it was officially run by a woman who in reality worked in a fuel station. She has denied being used as a front for the company.

It emerged a few months ago that some money from that contract was also used to pay for repairs at Dr Mkhize’s private property.

When questioned by SIU investigators he said he only became aware of the payment through media reports – claiming that an employee on his property had arranged for the repairs and subsequent payment by an associate.

The SIU report cast doubt on that explanation.

The former health minister resigned in August amid the scandal – but denied any wrongdoing – or prior knowledge that he and his family had somehow benefitted from the contract.