Zweli Mkhize's woes mount as public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane opens police case against him

The health minister allegedly failed to honour three subpoena notices from the chapter 9 institution

Mawande AmaShabalala Political journalist
Health minister Zweli Mkhize allegedly failed on three occasions this year to honour subpoenas from public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's office.
Health minister Zweli Mkhize allegedly failed on three occasions this year to honour subpoenas from public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane's office.
Image: REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

Health minister Zweli Mkhize is in hot water with the office of the public protector, which is taking legal action against him for defying the chapter 9 institution.

Mkhize, who is also under the SIU investigation for his alleged involvement in a dodgy communications contract at his department, allegedly failed on three occasions to honour subpoenas from Busisiwe Mkhwebane's office.

According to a statement from her office, Mkhize was summoned to provide documents and evidence to assist the office's investigation into allegations that his department failed to implement “recommendations of the Report of the Clinical Associate National Task Team 2017".

“Subpoena notices were served on Dr Mkhize on February 4 for his appearance before the public protector on March 18, on April 21 for May 7, and again on May 24 for June 1.

“He failed to present himself on all three occasions, with his office advising each time that he was unavailable.”

Mkhwebane viewed this as unjustifiable defiance and said she was headed to the Brooklyn police station to lay a complaint against the minister.

Mkhwebane said Mkhize cannot just ignore subpoena notices without reasonable and justifiable cause and hope that he will get away with it.

“It is critical for state functionaries to understand that compliance with our investigations is not optional. No less than the constitution of the republic enjoins other organs of state to support and assist the public protector to ensure the institution’s independence, impartiality, dignity and effectiveness,” the public protector said.

The case against Mkhize by Mkhwebane comes amid growing calls for President Cyril Ramaphosa to pull the trigger on the minister after damaging media reports against him in recent weeks.

The Daily Maverick has been reporting about a multimillion-rand communication services contract awarded to a company named Digital Vibes which is owned by Mkhize's alleged close allies.

This week the publication revealed that Mkhize's son, Dedani, had a second-hand Toyota Land Cruiser belonging to him financed by Digital Vibes to the tune of R160,000.

The SIU is also investigating the controversial contract, while Ramaphosa has promised to act after the investigation outcomes are released. 

Mkhize was not immediately available for comment and his spokesperson Lwazi Manzi had not responded to texted questions at the time of publishing. 

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