Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane has been appointed acting health minister, after Zweli Mkhize was placed on special leave.
On Tuesday, President Cyril Ramaphosa placed Mkhize on special leave pending investigations concerning contracts between the health department and service provider, Digital Vibes.
The department is accused of awarding Digital Vibes a “dodgy” tender worth R150m for communications regarding the National Health Insurance (NHI) rollout in 2019.
According to a Daily Maverick report, the company’s scope of work was extended in March 2020 to include communications services during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Digital Vibes is owned by Mkhize’s long-serving personal spokesperson Tahera Mather and former personal assistant Naadira Mitha.
Mkhize has denied benefiting personally from the contract and distanced himself from individuals implicated in the scandal.
Here are five things to know about Kubayi-Ngubane:
Minister of tourism
Born in 1978, the politician from Soweto in Gauteng is one of the youngest members of Ramaphosa’s cabinet. Kubayi-Ngubane is the minister of tourism and was appointed to the position in May 2019.
She will serve as acting minister of health until further notice while the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) investigates the allegations against Mkhize and Ramaphosa awaits a report on the outcome of the probe.
Kubayi-Ngubane matriculated in 1997. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Vista University (2000) and a Project Management Diploma from Damelin (2002).
She first became and MP in 2009 where she quickly rose through the ranks, serving as chairperson of the portfolio committee on telecommunications and postal services. She has also served in the leadership of the ANC Youth League and member of the ANC Gauteng provincial executive committee.
Kubayi-Ngubane served as the whip of the parliamentary committee on basic and higher education and training and also as the deputy chief whip of the ANC. She also served on the standing committee on appropriations.
Her previous ministerial posts include energy, communications and science and technology between 2017 and 2018.
Criticism for promoting township tourism
The minister recently came under fire for her cook-off with media personality Somizi Mhlongo-Motaung to promote township tourism.
Kubayi-Ngubane participated in the cook-off before the department of tourism’s budget vote last month.
In her defence, she told Power 98.7 that Somizi did not charge for the event and having him on board was part of the department’s marketing strategy.
“I understand he normally charges a lot of money, but he didn’t,” she said.
Earlier this year, the tourism department was criticised for requiring that businesses severely impacted by the Covid-19 should be 51% black-owned to qualify for relief funding from the Tourism Equity Fund.
In April, the high court in Pretoria interdicted the department from processing applications for the R1.2bn fund after lobby groups Solidarity and AfriForum applied for it to be prevented.
The groups argued that everyone in the sector should be entitled to apply for assistance from the fund, as all businesses have been affected by the Covid-19 lockdown measures.
“The racist tourism fund proves the seriousness of the government’s racial ideology in fiction and the only immune systems capable of fighting the government’s immoral racial discrimination seems to be fearless civil rights dogs such as AfriForum and Solidarity,” said AfriForum’s campaign manager Jacques Broodryk.
Kubayi-Ngubane said she would abide by the ruling until the matter had been finalised.
By Unathi Nkanjeni- TimesLIVE