16:00 GMT19 June 2021
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    MOSCOW (Sputnik) - South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday decided to put Health Minister Zweli Mkhize on special leave amid accusations of corruption concerning COVID-19-related contracts.

    "President Cyril Ramaphosa has today, Tuesday, 08 June 2021 placed Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize on special leave," the president's office said in a statement.

    According to the statement, during this period the minister will assist with the investigations into the placement of government contracts with a service provider, Digital Vibes.

    The health ministry previously awarded a contract worth 150 million South African rand ($11 million) to the communications firm Digital Vibes, allegedly headed by Mkhize's close acquaintance. News24 portal revealed that the company bought a car for the minister's son and paid for the renovations in the house owned by the Mkhize family.

    Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane was appointed an interim health minister.

    South Africa's Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has launched a probe into the case, which is the latest among over 4,000 similar cases of suspicious placement of coronavirus-linked contracts since the start of the pandemic. As of June, a total of 63 government officials have been handed over for prosecution and 87 companies are on the way to being blacklisted over COVID-19-related corruption charges.

    COVID-19, vaccines, South Africa, pandemic, bribery
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