Zweli Mkhize

Zweli Mkhize
Zweli Mkhize Willowfontein and Muzi Thusi School visit.jpg
Minister of Health of South Africa
In office
30 May 2019 – 5 August 2021
PresidentCyril Ramaphosa
DeputyJoe Phaahla
Preceded byAaron Motsoaledi
Succeeded byJoe Phaahla
Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs of South Africa
In office
27 February 2018 – 29 May 2019
PresidentCyril Ramaphosa
Preceded byDes van Rooyen
Succeeded byNkosazana Dlamini-Zuma
Treasurer-General of the African National Congress
In office
18 December 2012 – 18 December 2017
Preceded byMathews Phosa
Succeeded byPaul Mashatile
5th Premier of KwaZulu-Natal
In office
6 May 2009 – 1 September 2013
Preceded byS'bu Ndebele
Succeeded bySenzo Mchunu
Chancellor of the University of KwaZulu-Natal
In office
18 May 2009 – August 2017
Preceded byFrene Ginwala
Succeeded byMogoeng Mogoeng
Personal details
Zwelini Lawrence Mkhize

(1956-02-02) 2 February 1956
Willowfontein, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
Political partyAfrican National Congress
Spouse(s)May Mashego
Alma materUniversity of Natal

Zwelini Lawrence Mkhize (born 2 February 1956)[1] is a South African doctor, legislator and politician who served as the Minister of Health from May 2019 until his resignation on Thursday 5 August 2021. In this role, he was prominent in South Africa's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.[2] He previously served as the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs from 2018 to 2019. He was the 5th Premier of KwaZulu-Natal from 2009 to 2013. Mkhize is a member of the African National Congress and was the party's Treasurer-General between 2012 and 2017.[3]

Early life

Zwelini Mkhize was born on 2 February 1956 in Willowfontein, Pietermaritzburg.[4] He is the fifth child in a family of seven children. He completed his degree in medicine at the University of Natal at the age of 26. He completed his internship at the McCord Hospital in 1983.[5] Mkhize found employment at the Edendale Hospital in Pietermaritzburg the following year.[6] He was forced into exile in Swaziland but later settled in Zimbabwe. He returned to South Africa in 1991 and soon worked for the Themba Hospital in the former Eastern Transvaal.

Political career

Upon his return to South Africa in 1991,[7] Mkhize began serving the African National Congress as a member of its national health secretariat.

KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government

After the 1994 election, Mkhize was appointed as the KwaZulu-Natal MEC for health in 1994. He held the post for a decade, consequently becoming longest-serving health MEC in the country.[8]

In 2004, Mkhize was appointed the MEC for Finance and Economic Development in KwaZulu-Natal, whilst serving as the chairperson of the ANC's National Education and Health subcommittee.

He was chosen on 30 April 2009 to be the ANC candidate for Premier of KwaZulu-Natal. The provincial legislature elected him on 6 May after he defeated the DA's John Steenhuisen for the post. Mkhize received 68 votes compared to Steenhuisen's 7.[9]

He was elected the provincial chairperson of the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal in 2008. He was re-elected to a second term as chair in 2012.[10]

He served as the chancellor of the University of KwaZulu-Natal since 2009 until 2017.[11]

Treasurer General of the ANC

Mkhize was elected as Treasurer General of ANC at the party's 53rd National Conference in December 2012.[12] This post required the officeholder to work out of "Luthuli House," the ANC Headquarters as stated in the ANC Constitution 12.11 "Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the Secretary-General, the Deputy Secretary-General and the Treasurer General shall be full-time functionaries of the ANC."[13]

On 22 August 2013 Zweli Mkhize stepped down as Premier of KwaZulu-Natal stating, "After considering the workload associated with my two responsibilities, I have come to the conclusion that I need to spend more time fulfilling my responsibilities as the treasurer-general of the African National Congress."[14] Mkhize would be based at ANC headquarters Luthuli House in Johannesburg full-time as from 1 September.[15]

On 18 December 2017, ANC Gauteng secretary Paul Mashatile was elected the new Treasurer General of the African National Congress at the 54th National conference.[16]

National government

On 27 February 2018, Mkhize became the new minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, succeeding Des van Rooyen.[17] He assumed the post of Health minister on 30 May 2019.[18]

Presidential aspirations

In September 2017, Zweli Mkhize announced that he will accept the nomination to be the next President of the African National Congress at their December conference.[19]

He is known to play a unifying role in the party and has been vocal against factionalism in the ANC.[20]

COVID-19 pandemic

Since the first case in South Africa was detected in March 2020, Mkhize has provided leadership over the country's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.[2]

Digital Vibes scandal and resignation

On 23 May 2021, Daily Maverick reported that communications company Digital Vibes, a firm headed by Tahera Mather, a friend of Mkhize, and Naadhira Mitha, Mkhize's former personal assistant, received a tender worth R150 million through a closed tender process in 2019 to provide communications services for the national government's National Health Insurance rollout and later the COVID-19 pandemic. R90 million of the R150 million was allegedly channelled to organisations set up by Mather and Mitha, to personal bank accounts and businesses of Mather's family, and to other third parties. Only R40 million was paid to legitimate service providers, while the last R20 million is reportedly unaccounted for.[21]

Mather and Mitha had worked on Mkhize's campaign for ANC president in 2017 and Mkhize is reported to have had a key role in Digital Vibes' alleged scheme.[21] Digital Vibes charged the national health department millions of rands to coordinate Mkhize's press briefings, media interviews and other events during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to set up Mkhize's official announcement that South Africa had entered the second wave of COVID-19 infections in December 2020. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Digital Vibes reportedly charged the health department for NHI-projects at overinflated prices. Daily Maverick had reported in February 2021 that Digital Vibes had received R82 million, but this figure excluded payments that were made for Digital Vibes' work on the NHI and other transfers.[21]

Mkhize distanced himself from the allegations and denied having a conflict of interest. The acting Minister in the Presidency, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, said that the Special Investigative Unit (SIU) had been instructed to investigate allegations.[22] On 28 May, Daily Maverick reported that Digital Vibes had allegedly paid for maintenance work at a property owned by Mkhize's family trust and gave R300,000 to a business owned by Mkhize's son, Dedani.[23]

On 1 June 2021, Daily Maverick reported that Digital Vibes had allegedly bought a second-hand Toyota Land Cruiser for Mkhize's son, Dedani.[24]

On 9 June 2021, President Cyril Ramaphosa put Zweli Mkhize on special leave, after allegations that his ministry improperly awarded contracts related to the fight against the coronavirus to a communications company controlled by his former associates.[25]

On 29 July 2021, the Special Investigative Unit's report was released and it was revealed that Mkhize's son Dedani had allegedly received "boxes of cash" from a key figure in the corruption scandal. Dedani met with Radha Hariram, the director of Digital Vibes, at a petrol station in Stanger in KwaZulu-Natal, where he allegedly received money from the contract. The SIU accused Mkhize of improper conduct for his role and wants to reclaim about R3,8 million from Dedani. The SIU argued that the contract was unlawfully awarded and the unit is now seeking that it be reviewed and set aside by a court. The SIU also seeks to reclaim R150-million from multiple recipients of the alleged looting scheme.[26][27]

Mkhize resigned as minister of health on 5 August 2021.[28]


  1. ^ "Zweli Lawrence Mkhize, Dr". Retrieved 16 April 2020.
  2. ^ a b Singh, Kaveel. "'It has been a rough journey' – Health Minister Zweli Mkhize reflects on a year of Covid-19". News24. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
  3. ^ "MEC: Dr Z L Mkhize". KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Treasury. Retrieved 1 May 2009.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Independent Newspapers Online. "McCord Hospital handed over". Independent Online.
  6. ^ "Mkhize the man to watch as stalwarts in the ANC age". Business Day Live.
  7. ^ "Total Exposure -".
  8. ^ "Government Leaders | South African Government".
  9. ^ "Mkhize takes the reins in KZN". IOL news. 6 May 2009. Retrieved 19 April 2020.
  10. ^
  11. ^ du Plessis, Carien (30 April 2009). "ANC announces its premier candidates". IOL. Retrieved 1 May 2009.
  12. ^ "African National Congress".
  13. ^ "African National Congress".
  14. ^ "News 24". Zweli Mkhize resigns as KZN premier. 22 August 2013.
  15. ^ "Zweli Mkhize resigns as KZN premier". News 24. News 24. 22 August 2013.
  16. ^ "Paul Mashatile gets set to leave Gauteng after being named ANC treasurer-general".
  17. ^ "IN FULL l Ramaphosa hires and fires - read his Cabinet reshuffle speech". TimesLIVE. 26 February 2018. Retrieved 19 April 2020.
  18. ^ Pilane, Pontsho (29 May 2019). "Ramaphosa announces Zweli Mkhize as the next health minister". Retrieved 19 April 2020.
  19. ^ "Zweli Mkhize ready to run for ANC president".
  20. ^ "'It's time to forge unity in the ANC'".
  21. ^ a b c Myburgh, Pieter-Louis (23 May 2021). "Exposed: DoH's R150m Digital Vibes scandal – Zweli Mkhize associates charged millions for Covid-19 media briefings". Daily Maverick. Retrieved 5 June 2021.
  22. ^ Bhengu, Cebelihle (28 May 2021). "Zweli Mkhize and Digital Vibes: five things you need to know about the scandal". TimesLIVE. Retrieved 5 June 2021.
  23. ^ Myburgh, Pieter-Louis (28 May 2021). "Exposed: Digital Vibes bankrolled maintenance work at Zweli Mkhize property; R300k paid to minister's son". Daily Maverick. Retrieved 5 June 2021.
  24. ^ Myburgh, Pieter-Louis (1 June 2021). "Exposed: Digital Vibes bought a Land Cruiser bakkie for Health Minister Zweli Mkhize's son". Daily Maverick. Retrieved 5 June 2021.
  25. ^ David McKenzie and Schams Elwazer. "South African health minister placed "on special leave" pending investigation into awarding of contracts". CNN. Retrieved 9 June 2021.
  26. ^ Mkentane, Luyolo (29 July 2021). "SIU makes damning finding against Zweli Mkhize in Digital Vibes contract probe". BusinessDay. Retrieved 1 August 2021.
  27. ^ Myburgh, Pieter-Louis (31 July 2021). "Zweli Mkhize's son collected bags of Digital Vibes cash". Daily Maverick. Retrieved 1 August 2021.
  28. ^ Tandwa, Lizeka (5 August 2021). "Mkhize tenders resignation as Ramaphosa calls top six meeting, fueling cabinet reshuffle speculation". Mail & Guardian. Retrieved 5 August 2021.

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