By Kaya 959 News
The Department of Health has asked for more time before it responds to allegations levelled against Digital Vibes, a company allegedly run by friends of Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize.
The department said they have received various media queries regarding the communications contract awarded to Digital Vibes.
“In February, the Minister made a public commitment that as soon as a final report is available, the outcomes, findings and recommendations thereof will be shared with members of the public. We wish to assure you that that commitment remains,” the department said.
Special Investigations Unit
It said it was confident that the Special Investigations Unit continues to follow its investigation process as proclaimed.
“The non-response to various media queries by the department and the Minister is out of ensuring that there is no interference with the ongoing investigations and all the necessary information and documents is shared with the investigators,” the department said.
It said interviews have been held with affected parties, and various actions to uncover the details into the allegations have already been embarked on.
“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 / action taken against.
We however wish to plead with the media and members of the public that the Department be given more time,” the department said.
Company run by Mkhize’s close associates
Digital Vibes is a media company run by Mkhize’s former personal spokesperson, Tahera Mather and his former personal assistant, Naadhira Mitha.
The company was awarded a R150 million tender for services linked to the National Health Insurance and later the roll-out of communications around COVID-19.
At least R90m of the R150m was funneled to entities set up by both women to business and personal accounts of some of Mather’s immediate family. Funds were also channeled to suspicious third parties.
Exposed: DoH’s R150m Digital Vibes scandal – Zweli Mkhize associates charged millions for Covid-19 media briefings https://t.co/gTlf94NvrR
By Pieter-Louis Myburgh
— Daily Maverick (@dailymaverick) May 24, 2021
Thus far, investigations have established that R40m was used for legitimate service providers and other costs related to the department’s contract. R20m has not been accounted for.
When the allegations came to light in February, Mkhize welcomed the probe.
A meeting was held where the SIU informed him that it had received a complaint about a multi-million Rand tender awarded to the KwaZulu-Natal-based company.
At the time, Mkhize said he was given an update on the investigations.
These investigations are based on either audit reports or whistle-blowing that would have been received.
In relation to Digital Vibes, he advised that the auditor-general had raised specific findings on the deviations that were implemented and found them to be irregular. He informed me that he had resolved to investigate these matters further and the actual contract in order to ensure that the department is not found wanting by having irregular tenders.
One SA movement leader, Mmusi Maimane, said the matter was merely another form of capture.
“There is no sugar coating. #DigitalVibes is no different to #Bosasa or #Trillian. A private company was being paid millions for public health announcements. This could have been done in-house. Since when does it cost R3.5m to log onto Zoom,” he tweeted.
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. pic.twitter.com/Yl40RAXBDs
— Mmusi Maimane (@MmusiMaimane) May 24, 2021