…as ANC’s KZN Province lobbies him to contest for party presidency
Former health minister Zweli Mkhize is taking his fight against his dismissal from government straight to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s door.
Mkhize was forced to end his political career after the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) found that he, his family and close associates improperly benefited from an irregular tender. He now wants to clear his name ahead of the ANC’s elective conference by having the SIU’s findings against him set aside.
Mkhize is demanding that the SIU produce a Cabinet resolution that it says proves that he broke the law by awarding the National Health Insurance (NHI) communications contract to Digital Vibes when the work should have been done by the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS).
With efforts to elevate him to the top six at the December elective conference in full swing, Mkhize wants the damning findings against him set aside.
This is the second time he has gone to court in a bid to have the SIU report into the Digital Vibes tender reviewed and set aside. His first application did not succeed.
‘SIU HAD PREDETERMINED OUTCOME’
In his latest court action, filed at the Pretoria High Court in December, which lists Ramaphosa as a second respondent, Mkhize requested that the court force the SIU to comply with court rules and provide him with the Cabinet resolution regarding the assignment of the GCIS to lead and implement the NHI communications strategy.
Should the SIU fail to produce the resolution, Mkhize wants the agency’s opposition to his application to be struck off the court roll.
“Kindly note that the first respondent (SIU) has failed to comply with the provision of rule 53(1)(b) in that it has failed to provide a full and complete record of the decision sought to be set aside in this application, referred to in paragraphs one and two of the applicant’s notice of motion,” read Mkhize’s court papers.Unless the first respondent remedies its noncompliance with section 53(1)(b), the applicant intends, after the lapse of 10 days from the date of delivery, to apply for an order that rule 53(1)(b) be complied with or that the first respondent’s opposition to the application be struck out.
By challenging the SIU’s report, Mkhize kept to his word when he warned Ramaphosa in a letter dated July 2 that he was going to challenge the report should the president ignore the facts in his founding affidavit seeking an order to declare the conduct of the SIU unlawful and unconstitutional, and continue to take action against him based on the report.
In the letter, which City Press has seen, Mkhize pleaded with Ramaphosa not to take further action against him, arguing that the SIU had ignored his evidence by handing over the report on the same day as his hearing.
He wrote that the SIU had predetermined the outcome because it could not have drafted and completed the report and handed it over to Ramaphosa a few hours after his hearing.
“Its central conclusion had been arrived at in advance of even the receipt of my submission and Wednesday afternoon’s [June 30 2021] tranche of evidence.”
Ramaphosa reacted to the SIU report by suspending Mkhize, which strained their relationship before his resignation.
TOP SIX BID
The former ANC treasurer-general has been lobbied to challenge Ramaphosa for the ANC’s top position in some parts of KwaZulu-Natal, or contest for the deputy presidency.
At the ANC’s last conference in Nasrec in 2017, the province failed to get anyone elected to the party’s top six. This was partly due to its division between supporting Ramaphosa or Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
Now KwaZulu-Natal plans to unite around a name to get into the ANC presidency, and Mkhize’s backers are convinced he should be that person.
However, Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu is the other name that the province can put forward to the top six. Mchunu is being touted for the position of secretary-general, which he narrowly lost out on to Ace Magashule at Nasrec.
In 2017, Mkhize mounted a presidential challenge that fizzled out at the eleventh hour. A week ago, religious and traditional leaders organised a prayer meeting for him at his home, and it is expected that a few more activities will be held in due course to popularise his name again.
Some KwaZulu-Natal structures, mainly those aligned with current provincial chairperson Sihle Zikalala, are believed to support his elevation to the top six, but oppose a challenge to Ramaphosa.
But before accepting the lobby group’s proposal to stand for the ANC presidential election, Mkhize wants to clear his name.
RAMAPHOSA MUST DECLASSIFYCABINET RESOLUTION
The SIU responded to Mkhize’s latest court bid through the office of the State Attorney in Pretoria, saying that it was going to oppose his second motion to set aside the report.
The agency filed its replying affidavit on December 14, a week after Mkhize had brought his motion.
“We refer to the matter above, in particular the notice delivered on behalf of Mr Mkhize in terms of rule 30(a), dated December 7 2021 (01-1) (‘the notice’).
“You allege in the notice that the SIU’s failure to provide the Cabinet resolution or decision regarding the assignment of the GCIS to lead and implement the NHI communications strategy constitutes noncompliance with rule 53(1)(b). We deny this,” the SIU replied in its court papers.