Parliament to meet with Department of Health over Digital Vibes report

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Parliament says it has called a special urgent meeting with the Department of Health for it to provide an explanation on the Digital Vibes report by the Special Investigating Unit.

The report was made public by the President on Wednesday. The Special Investing Unit made damning findings against former Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, his family, and close associates.

President Cyril Ramaphosa authorises the release of the Digital Vibes report:

The company, owned by Mkhize’s associates, was awarded a R150 million tender. The Portfolio Committee on Health says it has requested to meet with Health Minister Joe Phahlaa and the acting Director-General.

Chairperson of the Committee Kenneth Jacobs says they want a quick engagement on what further steps need to be taken by the department.

“We look forward to the meeting with  Minister and the Acting DG. And we will be looking at what we will be proposed by the Minister and the Acting DG in terms of the actions which they will be taking. We also then understand that the members will be asking important questions.”

Suspensions after the release of the report

Meanwhile, six Department of Health officials will be placed on precautionary suspension following the release of the report.

Speaking to the media in Pretoria, Health Minister Joe Phaahla says that by the close of business today all six officials will have been served with suspension letters, so that the disciplinary process can continue.

Deputy Director-General responsible for Health Regulations and Compliance, Dr Anban Pillay, the Department’s Head of Communications, Popo Maja, as well as Chief Director Shireen Pardesi, are among the six officials who will be served with letters of suspension.

Phaahla says they will be suspended with full pay until the disciplinary process is finalised.

“We are anxious to conclude the disciplinary process as a matter of urgency to bring these matters to closure in order to dedicate our time, energy, and resources to the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic through the vaccination rollout programme.”

Acting Director-General, Dr Nicolas Crisp, says their legal department will draft the charges against the six. The SIU identified 18 people as being involved in the irregular contract. Ten of them worked at the department.

Phaahla says the former Director-General, Sandile Buthelezi, was earlier placed on precautionary suspension by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Minister Phaahla responds to the Digital Vibes report :