African National Congress (ANC) Chairperson Gwede Mantashe has condemned mounting calls for his ‘fellow comrade,’ Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize to step down, amid the Digital Vibes scandal, in which he alleged to have unduly helped his associates score a lucrative contract with government.

Daily Maverick was the first to lift the lid on the debacle. According to the publication, Tahera Mather and Naadhira Mitha – close friends of Mkhize, benefited from Digital Vibes’ contract with the Department of Health by working for the company as paid consultants.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) and Afiforum have been leading calls for him to step down as the matter is being probed by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU). Speaking during a lecture on ‘Revolutionary Morality’ hosted by the ANC in the Sarah Baartman region of the Eastern Cape, Mantashe described such calls for Mkhize’s removal as an occupational hazard.

“As a mineworker, when I go underground, I can’t avoid dust and its effects when I work underground. That is like that when you are leading a portfolio that is critical and busy like health today,” Mantashe said.

“They will insult you, but what they should be asking for is to allow investigation into the allegations.”

Gwede Mantashe comes to Zweli Mkhize’s defence

Gwede Mantashe further said they should rather call for the matter to be probed, as opposed to wanting Zweli Mkhize to be removed from his post.

Mkhize isn’t the first and most certainly won’t be the first prominent ANC leader to face calls for his removal.

“If we were listen to Steenhuisen every time he says somebody must be fired, we would be left with nobody. Issues must be investigated … the call which should have been made was that of investigation instead”

ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe

At the same event, he also touched on the ANC’s contentious step-aside resolution, which has caused much division within the party.

“The assumption made by conference is that revolutionaries will have a conscience on their own and therefore stepping aside would be a voluntary action, we have seen it many times in the movement,” he said.

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Presh JM Reporter

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