SIU probe into R82m tender linked to Zweli Mkhize's associates 'at an early stage'
The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) probe into possible collusion of tenders awarded by the national health department to a KwaZulu-Natal based communications company — with close links to health minister Zweli Mkhize — is “at an early stage”.
SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyango told TimesLIVE on Thursday that they had requested documentation from the department regarding the tenders.
“We have already started. We have sent a letter, as per our legislation, for request for documentation yesterday. Today [Thursday] we have followed it up with a physical letter where we sent somebody to go through [to deliver it]. We don't want a situation where people say they didn't receive it.”
The scandal is the latest debacle involving allegations of corruption, with links to Covid-19 procurement, which have rocked the country.
On Tuesday the Daily Maverick broke the story of how an unknown northern KZN communications company, Digital Vibes — which ironically has no digital footprint — had been appointed in 2019 through a closed tender to provide communication services for the government's National Health Insurance (NHI) rollout.
The report highlighted that the scope of work was extended in March 2020 to include communications services for Covid-19.
A year earlier, the same company had secured a contract from the department of co-operative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta), which at the time Mkhize was in charge of.
According to the DM report, Mkhize has found himself at the centre of a conflict of interest debate whereby his former personal spokesperson, Tahera Mather, and his former personal assistant, Naadhira Mitha, landed consultancy jobs from Digital Vibes after it had secured the tenders.
Mather is reported to be an alleged family friend of Mkhize, whose relationship is said to extend as far back as the 1990s, during Mkhize's time as MEC for health in KwaZulu-Natal.
Mkhize's office has been approached for comment.
In August, TimesLIVE reported how Mkhize vehemently denied that any of his family were involved in Covid-19 tender procurement.
The minister had been responding to a question by the media regarding the National Treasury investigating government officials for corruption around the emergency Covid-19 tenders.
“I am not aware of anyone or any family getting government tenders for PPE. I am not aware, I have never heard of it,” he said at a media briefing in Durban.