President Cyril Ramaphosa says he’s dealing with allegations around Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize and the irregular R150 million Digital Vibes contract.

President Ramaphosa was presenting the Presidency’s budget vote in Parliament:

He says the allegations are serious and need to be investigated thoroughly by law enforcement agencies. President Ramaphosa says due process will be followed once the investigations are finalised.

“There are serious allegations which need to be investigated by the SIU and any other appropriate authority and be finalised without delay.”

Claims of tender irregularities at Health Department serious test for combating corruption

The Executive Secretary at the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution, Lawson Naidoo says the claims of tender irregularities in the Health Department pose a serious test of the state’s commitment to combating corruption.

Naidoo says the matter is a very strong signal to the South African public. “This is a very strong signal to the South African public that this is a serious matter.

“The issue of the integrity of the state, how serious they are about fighting corruption. We are going to get a report from the Deputy Chief Justice in three months’ time outlining how we deal with state capture. And we are only dealing with issues when they are staring at us like this. Is there any hope that the recommendations of the Zondo Commission will actually be before the court of law?”

Pressure from DA

Pressure is mounting from the Democratic Alliance (DA) and others for Mkhize to step down or be removed by President Ramaphosa.

Mkhize has said that an investigation into allegations over irregular multi-million rand contracts by his department has found that its dealings with communications company, Digital Vibes, were irregular.

Mkhize denies any involvement

Mkhize has denied any involvement in the awarding of an irregular multi-million-rand contract by his department.

This after a Special Investigating Unit probe found that the Health Department’s dealings with communications company, Digital Vibes, were irregular.

It follows newspaper reports that the Department had paid Digital Vibes R150-million for services related to the National Health Insurance and the 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.

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.”

Mkhize’s briefing on Digital Vibes issue:

Mkhize says the monies paid to Digital Vibes were found to be fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

“In summary, the investigation has found that the tender bidding process was in contravention of the Finance Management Act. The process of appointing Digital Vibes was irregular – ranging from inconsistencies in the bid committees to lack of disclosure of conflict of interests. The investigators have found that an amount of some R37-million, paid to DV, constitutes fruitless and wasteful expenditure. The investigators, therefore, concluded that the appointment of DV was irregular and the R150-million that was paid to DV was irregular expenditure.”