Health department incurs irregular expenditure of nearly R300 million

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The Department of Health has incurred irregular expenditure of nearly R300 million. This was disclosed in the department’s annual report for the year 2020/21, tabled in parliament.

Under this category, the irregular expenditure of Digital Vibes is also listed in one of the biggest corruption scandals in the department a R150 million contract was awarded the company, supposedly to perform communication services during the pandemic.

The contract has since been declared irregular by the Special Investigations Unit. It has also led to the resignation of former Health Minister Zweli Mkhize.

It is alleged that Mkhize has close ties to those who were awarded the tender and that his family indirectly benefitted financially from this contract.

President Cyril Ramaphosa releases Digital Vibes SIU report: 

Prevention of irregular expenditure and consequence management 

Reporting on irregular expenditure in the department, the Auditor-General (AG) Tsakani Maluleke says effective and appropriate steps were not taken to prevent irregular expenditure, and that the value is not complete as management was still in the process of quantifying the full extent of the irregular expenditure.

The majority of the irregular expenditure disclosed was caused by the contravention of procurement processes.

Some of the contracts were awarded to suppliers whose tax matters had not been declared by the South African Revenue Service to be in order, as required by treasury regulation.

Some of the contracts were awarded to bidders who did not submit a declaration of possible interest and some of the goods and services of a transaction value above R500 000 were procured without inviting competitive bids.

With regards to consequence management, the AG reports that she could not find sufficient audit evidence that disciplinary steps were taken against officials who had incurred irregular and fruitless, and wasteful expenditure, because investigations into irregular and fruitless and wasteful expenditure were not performed.

Tackling coronavirus 

Meanwhile, Health Minister, Joe Phaahla, says the COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated the importance of global cooperation to tackle viruses of this nature. He says to fight a virus-like COVID-19, the world needs to invest in disease surveillance, including a case database that is instantly accessible to relevant organisations, and rules requiring countries to share information.

Phaahla says governments should have access to lists of trained personnel, from local leaders to global experts, who are prepared to deal with an epidemic immediately, as well as lists of supplies to be stockpiled or redirected in an emergency.

He says the pandemic has once again shown that vaccines work. More than 88 000 South Africans have died due to COVID-19 complications.

The Minister has also formally introduced the coronavirus vaccination certificate: