President Cyril Ramaphosa was confronted with questions about a possible cabinet reshuffle and his plans for suspended health minister Zweli Mkhize during a tour of Covid-19 vaccination sites on Thursday, but left journalists still guessing about his plans.
Ramaphosa has largely kept mum about a Special Investigating Unit (SIU) report handed to him on 30 June, which should shed light on Mkhize’s role in the awarding of a R150-million communications contract to Digital Vibes, a company associated with his former spokesperson. Ramaphosa placed Mkhize on special leave in June.
Money from the contract was allegedly used to buy a vehicle for Mkhize’s son and to carry out repairs to a house owned by the Mkhize family in Johannesburg. The health minister has denied any wrongdoing.
“The report is with me. There are a few issues that need to be completed. And once all that has been done. I will come out and explain to the nation exactly how I will deal with that report. It is not a matter I’m going to sit on forever. It will come out, and we will be able to explain,” Ramaphosa said on Thursday.
The Freedom Front Plus (FF+) said the delay on the SIU report sent out the wrong signal about Ramaphosa’s intentions.
“It appears as if the president is hesitant to disclose the report at this stage. The FF+ finds this totally unacceptable,” party spokesperson for health Philip van Staden said in a statement.
“Whoever is named in the report and possibly implicated in committing fraud and corruption must not only be disclosed, but must also face the punishment they deserve.”
Ramaphosa was equally reticent about whether he planned a cabinet reshuffle, in the aftermath of looting and vandalism in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng earlier this month, which critics say the police, army and intelligence were slow to respond to.
Those believed to be in the firing line include Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, State Security Minister Ayanda Dlodlo and Mkhize.
“The issue of reconfiguring [the] cabinet is an ongoing consideration for any president,” Ramaphosa said in response to reporters’ questions on Thursday, as he toured a public health facility in Tembisa and a private-public partnership centre in Midrand where Covid-19 vaccination sites have been established.
The president said South Africa’s national vaccination campaign was gaining momentum with the country having secured enough vaccines to increase its daily vaccination numbers.