Health ministry admits to 'glaring irregularities' in Digital Vibes contract
The health ministry has admitted that there have been some “glaring irregularities” found in the awarding of a multimillion-rand contract to Digital Vibes, a company linked to minister Dr Zweli Mkhize.
In February this year, Daily Maverick broke the story about how Digital Vibes had been appointed in 2019 through a closed tender to provide communication services for the government’s National Health Insurance (NHI) rollout, with the scope of the work extended in March 2020 to include communications services for Covid-19.
The contract, worth R82m, is being investigated by the SIU.
According to the news agency, Digital Vibes later employed Tahera Mather, a long-serving spokesperson and alleged family friend of Mkhize, as a consultant. It said the company also appointed a former assistant to the minister, Naadhira Mitha.
On Monday evening, the health department issued a statement after receiving several media queries regarding the communications contract. This after the Daily Maverick published another article about the saga.
“At this stage we can only confirm that the decision for the investigation to be conducted externally by entities with the necessary capacity was important as it has unveiled some glaring irregularities that will certainly have to be responded to [or] action taken against,” the statement read.
According to the statement, minister Zweli Mkhize in February made a public commitment that as soon as a final report was available, the outcomes, findings and recommendations would be shared publicly.
“We wish to assure you that that commitment remains. We are also confident that the SIU continues to follow its investigation process as proclaimed,” the statement read.
It continued that the “non-response” to the media queries that “out of ensuring that there is no interference with the ongoing investigations and all the necessary information and documents is shared with the investigators”.
“Interviews have been held with affected parties, various actions to uncover the details into the allegations have already been embarked on,” the statement read.
The statement pleaded with media to give the department more time.
“It would not at all serve much of a purpose if allegations that are under investigation are responded to publicly and not through an already established formal investigative process that will lead to proper legal recourse [and, or] action being taken.”