Dr Mkhize-health minister to be investigated by SIU

The Daily Maverick suggested in a report exposing the dodgy dealings on Monday 24 May that Tahera Mather – Mkhize’s personal spokesperson – and his former personal assistant Naadhira Mitha , benefited from Digital Vibes’ DoH contract by working for the company as paid consultants. 

They allege that the company wildly inflated he costs of setting up Mkhize’s briefings during the COVID-19 pandemic, with funds from the DoH funnelled into a host of obscure third party bank accounts.  

The Daily Maverick reported that of the R150 million Digital Vibes received from the DoH for their supposed communications services to the Department, around R90 million was channelled to entities set up by Mather and Mitha, and that only about R40 million went towards legitimate service providers related to the contract. They said that roughly R20 million remains unaccounted for.

They said that payments channeled into Mather and Mitha controlled entities, included some to businesses and personal accounts of Mather’s immediate family and to “other suspicious third parties, including the late AmaBhaca King Madzikane II Diko’s Royal Bhaca Projects”. 

Mkhize’s role in all of this? It would appear that the Health Minister was essentially “monetised” by Digital Vibes, with the company receiving millions for “coordinating” the minister’s media appearances and interviews relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Daily Maverick said that one such instance of this grossly inflated “coordination” contract included Mkhize’s appearance on a SABC news bulletin in December 2020 to announce South Africa’s second wave of COVID-19 infections, for which they charged a whopping R3.65 million. Previously, details surrounding the dodgy contracts suggesting that the damage was closer to the tune of R82 million, and at the Mkhize said that he welcomed any investigation into the contracts and his role in the procurement.

On the back of these allegations, the Democratic Alliance (DA) have called for the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to expand their ongoing probe into the contracts. 

“More information came to light detailing how the friends of Mkhize; Tahera Mather and Naadhira Mitha, and their friends and families benefitted from millions of rands in COVID-19 contracts and NHI related work,’ said the party’s Shadow Minister of Health, Siviwe Gwarube.

“It further seems that Digital Vibes was contracted in part to do work that should have been done by the Department of Health communications department, or at the very least submitted invoices for such work.”

The DA said in a statement on Monday that President Cyril Ramaphosa’s “silence on the matter is deafening”. 

“How can the person entrusted with leading the health response to this pandemic be implicated in the looting of millions of rands meant for the people of South Africa and yet the President is silent?”

“Unless the President takes immediate, decisive action to fully investigate Mkhize, the message to South Africans will be loud and clear: the politically powerful will be allowed to commit as many acts of corruption as they wish for as long as they want, because the ANC government does not care about accountability when it comes to the theft of public money.”

One SA Movement leader Mmusi Maimane weighed in on the bombshell allegations on Twitter, saying that what is being suggested to have taken place is as scandalous as the corruption allegations levelled against other State Owned Enterprises implicated in the State Capture Commission’s investigation.

“This is capture. There is no sugar coating. Digital Vibes is no different to Bosasa or Trillian,” he said.

“A private company was being paid millions for public health announcements. This could all have been done in-house. Since when does it cost R3.5 million to log onto Zoom.”

Meanwhile, theSIU says they have already reached some conclusions on aspects of the investigations against Dr Zweli Mkhize, but cannot disclose these at this stage.

The head of the Special Investigating Unit Advocate Andy Mothibi says the investigation into allegations of corruption in the Health Ministry is about to be concluded.

Mothibi says they have already reached some conclusions on aspects of the investigations, but cannot disclose these at this stage.

Speaking during the launch of the Infrastructure Built Anti-Corruption Forum alongside Minister for Public Works and Infrastructure Development Patricia De Lille, Mothibi says they hope to conclude the investigation by the end of June.

He says this is part of the broader investigations into PPE procurement, which they hope to complete by the end of August.

“Where there is a need for consequence management in the department, we will refer those to the DG. Where there’s a need for prosecution our law requires us to send it to the NPA and where there’s a need for any action against anyone at any level, including the executive authority, we will do so.”

Image (Dr Zweli Mkhize –health minister’s department to be investigated for corruption deal worth millions).

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