"I do not regard any of these individuals as personal friends I have worked with them in the ordinary course of my political or official duties and this is not unusual."
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize on Wednesday changed tune and denied friendship with long time aides who scored irregularly on multimillion rand worth of governments contracts.
Former personal spokesperson of Mkhize, Tahera Mather, and his former personal assistant, Naadhira Mitha, “pocketed roughly R90m in suspicious payments emanating from a R150m Covid-19 and National Health Insurance communications contract.”
In a last-minute media briefing on Wednesday, Mkhize said he was not friends with both Mather and Mitha, who work for Digital Vibes, after reports the company received media liaison contracts improperly. However, he admitted that the pair were his comrades.
“I worked with many of these comrades at the time in the fulfilment of my role as the TG. I must also clarify that, when we contested ANC
leadership positions for our national conference in 2017,” said Mkhize.
“I do not regard any of these individuals whose names have been mentioned publicly, as personal friends. They are certainly my comrades, I have worked with them in the ordinary course of my political or official duties and this is not unusual.”
Mkhize said that he did not appoint a personal spokesperson although many “comrades offered their support” but there was no one, including Mathera, who was assigned as his personal spokesperson.
He said he had no prior knowledge of Mitha joining Digital Vibes, a company that had been awarded a contract by the Department nor did he discuss that with her or any of the Ministry officials.
“It was only after a few months of that resignation that I was alerted by my office that Mitha was now working with a communications company.”
He said that this came about as the company had reached out to his office to make an appointment to do various TV and radio recordings for the Covid-19 awareness campaign.
By Siyanda Ndlovu - Digital Journalist
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