|Minister of Health of South Africa|
30 May 2019 – 5 August 2021
|Preceded by||Aaron Motsoaledi|
|Succeeded by||Joe Phaahla|
|Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs of South Africa|
27 February 2018 – 29 May 2019
|Preceded by||Des van Rooyen|
|Succeeded by||Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma|
|Treasurer-General of the African National Congress|
18 December 2012 – 18 December 2017
|Preceded by||Mathews Phosa|
|Succeeded by||Paul Mashatile|
|5th Premier of KwaZulu-Natal|
6 May 2009 – 1 September 2013
|Preceded by||S'bu Ndebele|
|Succeeded by||Senzo Mchunu|
|Chancellor of the University of KwaZulu-Natal|
18 May 2009 – August 2017
|Preceded by||Frene Ginwala|
|Succeeded by||Mogoeng Mogoeng|
Zwelini Lawrence Mkhize
2 February 1956
Willowfontein, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
|Political party||African National Congress|
|Alma mater||University of Natal|
Zwelini Lawrence Mkhize (born 2 February 1956) 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. 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.
Zwelini Mkhize was born on 2 February 1956 in Willowfontein, Pietermaritzburg. 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. Mkhize found employment at the Edendale Hospital in Pietermaritzburg the following year. 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.
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.
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.
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.
Treasurer General of the ANC
Mkhize was elected as Treasurer General of ANC at the party's 53rd National Conference in December 2012. 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."
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." Mkhize would be based at ANC headquarters Luthuli House in Johannesburg full-time as from 1 September.
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.
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.
He is known to play a unifying role in the party and has been vocal against factionalism in the ANC.
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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.
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.
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. 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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
Mkhize resigned as minister of health on 5 August 2021.
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