The Democratic Alliance (DA) has called for Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, to step aside pending the outcome of a Special Investigative Unit (SIU) investigation into the Health Department’s dealings with a communications company, Digital Vibes.

This after Mkhize announced in a media briefing on Wednesday morning that the SIU has found that the department’s involvement with Digital Vibes was irregular. It follows newspaper reports that the Department had paid Digital Vibes R150-million for services related to the National Health Insurance and government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mkhize’s former personal spokesperson, Tahera Mather, and former personal assistant, Naadhira Mitha, are reported to control the company – although the two are not listed as directors.

The DA Shadow Minister of Health Siviwe Gwarube says, “It is now clear that the looting of public money has happened under the leadership of Dr Mkhize while there is a glaring conflict of interest considering the fact that DV is owned and run by very close associates of the minister. It cannot be that the very person entrusted with the COVID19 response in the country is embroiled in this kind of scandal involving public money.

“Minister Mkhize must step down pending a full SIU investigation. We have also called on the president to expand the scope of the SIU investigation to include the new information which has come to light,” Gwarube urges.

Mkhize has denied any involvement or having benefitted from the awarding of the irregular multi-million rand contract.

The video below talks about the alleged contract between the health department and Digital Vibes:

Speaking during a virtual media briefing, Mkhize said: “I am also aware that the key narrative has been that this contract was awarded to my associates and thus inferring that I may have used inference in the awarding of this contract to the said company. I also do not regard any of these individuals whose names have been mentioned publicly as personal friends but they are certainly my comrades. I have worked with them in the ordinary cause of my political or official duties and this is no unusual. I did not participate in the company’s appointment process or influence the selection of employees or consultants of the company. Even at a departmental level, the minister is only informed once the whole procurement process has been concluded.”