Friday, January 7 2022

FILE – In this archive photo from Tuesday, April 14, 2020, South African Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize takes delivery of emergency medical supplies for COVID-19 from China at OR Tambo airport in Johannesburg, South Africa. Mkhize was put on special leave on Tuesday, June 8, 2021 for a corruption scandal involving an irregular government contract where $ 11 million was paid to a company linked to two people who worked for him. (AP Photo / Themba Hadebe, file)

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JOHANNESBURG (AP) – The South African Minister of Health was put on special leave on Tuesday over a corruption scandal involving an irregular government contract in which $ 11 million was paid to a company linked to two people who worked for him.

Zweli Mkhize has spearheaded the response to COVID-19 in South Africa, which has the most cases and deaths in Africa.

This decision was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa in a statement from his office. He said Mkhize was put on special leave from his job “to deal with allegations and investigations” regarding the irregular contract.

South Africa’s tourism minister would step in as acting health minister, the president said. South Africa’s Special Investigation Unit is still reviewing the contract and has not released a report, although Mkhize’s own health department has already found the contract to be “irregular.”

Mkhize denied having personally benefited from the contract and claimed he was not involved in its award.

The former personal assistant and former spokesperson for Mkhize is now linked to the company Digital Vibes, which received the money to hold press briefings for the minister during the coronavirus pandemic.

There are new allegations that Mkhize’s son personally benefited from the contract.

It is one of multiple corruption scandals that have marred the South African government’s viral response.

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