South African Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has been placed on special leave by President Cyril Ramaphosa pending a corruption probe.
Dr Mkhize is being asked to address allegations that two of his close aides embezzled more than $6m (£4m) from public coronavirus funds, using a front company that was awarded a contract to run the health ministry’s Covid communications.
The minister, whose handling of the pandemic has been praised, denies any wrongdoing and is seeking to state his case to the governing African National Congress (ANC).
There has been public outrage that thousands of Covid-linked contracts have been awarded to politically connected companies.
More than 60 government officials are already set to be prosecuted.