Mkhize a no-show at Parly meeting as pressure mounts over Digital Vibes

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize was a no-show at Friday morning’s meeting after receiving legal advice not to appear.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize at an inter-ministerial briefing on 24 March 2020 detailing how government will respond ahead of and during the 21-day lockdown announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Kayleen Morgan/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Health Minister Zweli Mkhize didn't pitch up at a scheduled health portfolio committee meeting to discuss the now-infamous Digital Vibes contract scandal on Friday.

Mkhize was supposed to lead a delegation from his department along with his director-general, Sandile Buthelezi.

MPs locked horns over the issue.

Mkhize was a no-show at Friday morning’s meeting after receiving legal advice not to appear.

Members of the committee then clashed after the African National Congress (ANC) called for the meeting to be cancelled.

ANC committee member Tshilidzi Munyai said that the issue to be discussed was sub judice as Mkhize and his director-general, Buthelezi, were under investigation.

"This matter seems to be reported before the court of law by the Democratic Alliance's honourable Gwarube therefore it is sub judice. Also, the DG is a factor in the case opened up at the Cape Town police station."

But the Democratic Alliance (DA)'s Siviwe Gwarube and other opposition MPs objected.

"Those two things are not a court of law and the rule of being sub judice only relates to a matter being in front of a court of law, that's the first thing and I think it is a technical matter that needs to be noted very carefully."

Buthelezi eventually joined the virtual meeting, telling MPs that the Special Investigating Unit (SIU)'s report from its probe into the debacle still had to be finalised.

Committee member Naledi Chirwa of the EFF added: "There is a kind of dishonesty in this meeting and how we are having it because last year already, we called for the minister to resign and part of the reasons he said that he could not resign was because there was no link between him and the corruption at Digital Vibes, so it has become important to discuss any reports pertaining to corruption."

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