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Several officials from the national department of health were implicated in the recently released SIU report into the awarding of a R150 million tender to Digital Vibes.
President Cyril Ramaphosa authorised the publication of the report which revealed irregularities in the tender awarded to Digital Vibes, controlled by Tahera Mather and Naadhira Mitha, who are cited as close associates of the former health minister Zweli Mkhize.
Digital Vibes was contracted to handle National Health Insurance (NHI) media campaigns and the subsequent Covid-19 communications while Mkhize was in charge.
According to the report, the Department of Health attempted to appoint Mather as a communication expert and consultant without following due process.
“Allegedly, the NDOH then irregularly and unlawfully proceeded to appoint Digital Vibes, who then appointed Ms Mather and Ms Mitha as contractors/consultants,” says the report.
A WhatsApp message sent by the former minister on 15 July 2019 to Precious Matsoso, the former health director-general, suggests, according to the report, that Mkhize has “a vested interest” in the awarding of the tender.
In the message, Mkhize asked Matsoso to "kindly sort out contractual arrangements" around the awarding of the contract.
The investigation also cited former deputy director-general Dr Anban Pillay as one of the main players who sought to deviate from standard processes in order to award the contract to Digital Vibes.
It suggested, based off obtained evidence, that Pillay had committed fraud and should be criminally prosecuted for "financial misconduct".
"Dr Pillay, in a letter to the National Treasury dated 11 May 2020 where he requested approval to deviate from normal procurement procedures, made numerous material intentional misrepresentations to the National Treasury in an attempt to obtain belated approval to deviate from normal procurement procedures. The obtained evidence indicates that he committed fraud in this regard".
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