Mixed reaction to impact of Mkhize's special leave on SA's COVID-19 response

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize's been placed on special leave by President Cyril Ramaphosa pending the outcome of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU)'s probe into his department's contract with a company run by two of his associates.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize visited the Northern Cape to assess the province's COVID-19 vaccine rollout on 8 June 2021. Picture: Northern Cape Department of Health.

JOHANNESBURG - There's a mixed reaction to the potential impact that Health Minister Zweli Mkhize’s special leave will have on the country's COVID-19 response.

Mkhize's been placed on special leave by President Cyril Ramaphosa pending the outcome of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU)'s probe into his department's contract with a company run by two of his associates.

The minister, however, insisted that he had not benefited from the R150 million contract which had been found to be irregular.

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"I think many people who have worked under his leadership in this context have really appreciated it. It's been very tough," board chairperson of the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra), Helen Rees, said.

She said that Mkhize's absence from the department at such a trying time would be challenging.

"Many players have pulled together at a time like this and at a time like this, it's going to be challenging," Rees said.

Public health expert, Kerrin Begg, believed that it would not affect government's COVID-19 battle plan.

"The day-to-day management of COVID will continue uninterrupted," Begg said.

They both agree, however, that there would be an impact on the level of trust and confidence in the Health Department and government.

WATCH: Ramaphosa puts Mkhize on special leave after he apologises for Digital Vibes scandal

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