Step down, AfriForum tells Zweli Mkhize over Digital Vibes saga

'Anything less would be a betrayal of the communities who suffer under the Covid-19 pandemic'

25 May 2021 - 20:52 By shonisani tshikalange
AfriForum wants health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize Mkhize to step aside until investigations are finalised. The health department has admitted to 'glaring irregularities' in the awarding of a multimillion-rand contract.
AfriForum wants health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize Mkhize to step aside until investigations are finalised. The health department has admitted to 'glaring irregularities' in the awarding of a multimillion-rand contract.
Image: ANTHONY MOLYNEAUX

AfriForum wants health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize to step aside until the Special Investigating Unit has finalised its probe into the Digital Vibes saga.

The organisation said it wanted the probe into Mkhize's alleged knowledge of the claimed corruption and looting of public funds by the company, which is linked to him.

AfriForum said it had submitted a complaint to the public protector on Tuesday, and requested Mkhize to step aside.

“The ANC should have Dr Zweli Mkhize step aside pending the outcome of the investigation against him. Anything less would be tantamount to a betrayal of the communities who suffer under the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Johan Kruger, AfriForum's head of community development.

The health department admitted on Monday that there were “glaring irregularities” found in the awarding of a multimillion-rand contract to Digital Vibes.

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.

Public protector spokesperson Oupa Segalwe couldn't confirm receipt of the submission of the complaint as yet.

“We will check again tomorrow with intake staff,” he told TimesLIVE on Tuesday evening.

Kruger said the ANC must start actively to eradicate the pandemic-related corruption within its own ranks.

“Taxpayers are at breaking point, yet are confronted daily with reports of new looting sprees by ANC officials. The ANC government clearly does not realise what levels of frustration exist among taxpayers. AfriForum is inundated by perplexed communities who are actively investigating tax revolts,” Kruger said.

According to Kruger, these serious allegations of corruption do not bode well for the National Health Insurance (NHI) that the ANC wants to implement.

“The looting of resources at the first opportunity during a pandemic does indeed predict what can be expected when resources are managed centrally if and when NHI becomes a reality,” Kruger said.

After receiving several media queries regarding the communications contract, the health department issued a statement on Monday evening.

The department said its lack of response to various media queries was because it wanted to ensure there was no interference with the ongoing investigations and that all the relevant information and documents were shared with the investigators.

“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. 

TimesLIVE


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