SIU Completes Investigation On Digital Vibes

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has completed its report on the Health Department's R150 million contract with Digital Vibes, a company allegedly connected to Health Minister Zweli Mkhize's associates. 

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The Special Investigating Unit's (SIU) spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago confirmed to News24 that the report on the Health Department's R150 million contract with Digital Vibes, which is a company alledgedly connected to the Health Minister's Zweli Mkhize's associates. The report was handed to President Cyril Ramaphosa's office on Wednesday.

In June, the President was adamant that the matter would not be swept under the carpet. Ramaphosa placed Health Minister Zweli Mkhize on leave for the last couple of weeks after he was implicated in the Digital Vibes contract scandal which he is believed to have benefited from. 

Mkhize was implicated after his close associates Tahera Mather, his spokesperson, and Naadhira Mitha, his former personal assistant, were found to be doing work for Digital Vibes. They have been accused by the owner and director of the company, Radha Hariram of pocketing R80 million from the company for themselves. 

According to the Sunday Times, the report found that Minister Mkhize allegedly pressured officials to appoint the company, Digital Vibes, linked to his close associates. The company was initially contracted by the department for the National Health Insurance (NHI) campaign in 2019, this is reportedly when Mkhize pressured the officials to appoint the company for the R150 million communications contract.

The work was then expanded to include communications on Covid-19. Digital Vibes received requests for the Covid-19 work from the department before the contract was expanded to include Covid-19 work. This resulted in them receiving R35 million before their work was approved by the department. 

It is said that the bidding and tender process violated the Public Finance Management Act. 

The SIU was granted an order to freeze R22 million in the bank accounts linked to Digital Vibes after they had approached the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) earlier this month with evidence. The FIC then assisted the SIU to place a hold on R22 million identified as funds which were paid to Digital Vibes by the department. 

The SIU said that of the R150 million paid to Digital Vibes, R25 million went towards the NHI media campaign while the remaining R125 million was paid for the Covid-19 work. 

Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa), Mkhuleko Hlengwa confirmed to Independent Media that the SIU and the Presidency were to make presentations before the committee on Tuesday, in which details of the report will be heard. 

Hlengwa has called for the President to make the report public and for him and law enforcement agencies to act on the recommendations detailed in the report. 

“We also want the report to be public so that we can get past this difficult moment which is causing anxiety in the sense that the focus of the health sector is not on the pandemic now but on the cloud over the minister, notwithstanding the fact that he’s on suspension, and the fact that we’ve got an acting minister and that is not sustainable,” Hlengwa said.

IFP Chief whip in parliament, Narend Singh said that they expect Ramaphosa to do what is right for the country by fighting against corruption. 

 

 

 

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