Five key takeouts from Zweli Mkhize's briefing on Digital Vibes tender
Health minister Zweli Mkhize has distanced himself from individuals implicated in the controversial Digital Vibes tender.
Mkhize briefed the media on the investigation into the contract on Wednesday.
He said he did not declare a conflict of interest because he believed there was none. The minister further denied benefiting personally from the contract.
A report by Daily Maverick revealed that Digital Vibes had been appointed in 2019 through a closed tender to provide communication services for the government’s National Health Insurance (NHI) rollout. Its scope of work was later extended in March 2020 to include communications services during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mkhize said the department is instituting disciplinary processes against implicated individuals.
Here are five important takeouts from the minister:
The tender was irregular
The minister said the tender contravened processes and was irregular.
“The process of appointing Digital Vibes was irregular. The findings range from irregularities in the bidding committees to lack of disclosure of conflict of interest.”
Fruitless and wasteful expenditure
Mkhize said R37m paid to Digital Vibes was a wasteful and fruitless expenditure because it was paid before the approval of the expansion of work to include Covid-19.
“The investigators concluded that the appointment was irregular and as a result a total of R150m that was paid to Digital Vibes was irregular.”
Implicated individuals are not my friends
The minister distanced himself from individuals implicated in the scandal. He said he did not declare any conflict of interest because he did not believe there was one.
“I also do not regard any of these individuals whose names have been mentioned publicly as personal friends but they are certainly my comrades. I have worked with them in the ordinary course of my political or official duties and this is not unusual.”
Relationship with Ms Naadhira Mitha
The minister said Mitha was his PA but she later resigned for personal reasons. The minister said she did not disclose that she had joined a company that received a government contract.
“There was never such a discussion with myself as the minister or the ministry officials. It was only after several months of the resignation that I was alerted by my office that Miss Mitha was working for a communications company.
“This came about as they reached out to my office to make an appointment to do various TV and radio recordings for a Covid-19 awareness campaign.”
Funds must be recovered
Mkhize said state funds not used to advance its work must be recovered.
“If there is evidence that funds belonging to the state were not used for the intended purpose, these must be recovered without delay.”