Investigation into company linked to Zweli Mkhize associates is ongoing, parliament told

Health department and SIU are probing a R82m tender issued to Digital Vibes, a communications company linked to associates of the health minister

05 March 2021 - 15:10
Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said he welcomed the Special Investigating Unit probe. File photo.
Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said he welcomed the Special Investigating Unit probe. File photo.
Image: GCIS

Health director-general Dr Sandile Buthelezi told parliament the department is co-operating with a Special Investigating Unit (SIU) investigation into a company linked to associates of health minister Zweli Mkhize.

Daily Maverick broke the story of 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 is worth R82m, and is now subject to a SIU investigation.

According to the publication, Digital Vibes won the tender irregularly and later employed Tahera Mather, a long-serving spokesperson and alleged family friend of Mkhize, as a consultant. It said the company also appointed a former assistant to the minister, Naadhira Mitha.

The same company, the publication reported, had scored a tender while Mkhize was minister of co-operative governance and traditional affairs.

Mkhize previously told the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) he had welcomed the SIU investigation.

In parliament on Friday, Buthelezi said: “There are a few contracts we have been working on that were flagged by the auditor-general and we had commissioned a forensic investigation into them. Digital Vibes is one of them.

“There are actually two and I have received the first report that has been finalised by the auditing firm. We will be doing a full report at a later stage on these matters.”

Buthelezi and deputy health minister Joe Phaahla were updating parliament on the nationwide Covid-19 vaccine rollout.

Members of the health portfolio committee asked the pair to update the nation on the status of the investigation into Digital Vibes.

According to Sunday Times, SIU head Andy Mothibi reportedly said the inquiry into the company was still at a very early stage.

Buthelezi told parliament Digital Vibes was not the only company being investigated.

“We have shared information with the SIU in terms of the work we have been doing. We have linked the SIU with the auditing firm dealing with Digital Vibes. I have been in constant communication with them and they are working together with the SIU. We do not want to pre-empt that investigation,” he said.

Once the SIU has concluded its investigation, the outcomes will be made public, added Buthelezi.

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