Digital Vibes: Mkhize in court bid to set aside SIU findings, says it 'jeopardised' his career

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Zweli Mkhize.
Zweli Mkhize.
Alet Pretorius/Gallo Images
  • Zweli Mkhize launched a bid to set aside the SIU's findings into the Digital Vibes matter.
  • Mkhize and several other senior officials have been implicated in the controversial R150 million tender. 
  • The former minister says his political career has been damaged.

Former health minister Zweli Mkhize said the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) probe into the Digital Vibes contract ended his career as a public servant and jeopardised his standing as a politician. 

Mkhize has approached the High Court in Johannesburg to set aside the SIU's damning findings, and declare it unconstitutional and unlawful.

In a founding affidavit, dated 14 October, Mkhize said: "Had my submission and evidence been taken into account by the SIU, the SIU would have come to a very different conclusion regarding my alleged involvement in the appointment of Digital Vibes."

READ | 'Evidence pointing to criminal action' - SIU says Mkhize can still be charged for Digital Vibes saga

Mkhize further argued that the SIU's approach in analysing the evidence was tainted by a basic error in law. 

He said the findings, conclusions and recommendations of the SIU had immense personal consequences for him. 

Mkhize said:

Irregular as they were, they obliged me to tender my resignation and the president to accept it. My rights of reputation, personal and professional, have been undermined, my employment as a public servant ended, my political career (I have served both at provincial and national leadership levels of the ruling party) itself has been jeopardised.

The SIU maintains that Mkhize allegedly failed in his general oversight responsibilities in respect of the affairs of the department and his obligations in terms of Section 63 of the Public Finance Management Act.

READ | Digital Vibes: Health department officials who jumped ship not off the hook

According to the SIU, he and his family benefitted unduly from the Digital Vibes contract.

The department initially contracted Digital Vibes for the National Health Insurance (NHI) campaign in 2019.

Mkhize reportedly pressured officials to appoint the company owned by his close associates, Tahera Mather and Naadhira Mitha.

Wasteful

The SIU argued that irregular expenditure, amounting to approximately R150 million, and fruitless and wasteful expenditure, amounting to between R72 million and R80 million, was incurred by the department.

Before releasing its final report, the SIU found that Mkhize deliberately ignored a Cabinet decision when he allowed Digital Vibes to be appointed to conduct communication work on the NHI.

In June 2019, Cabinet resolved that the Government Communications Information System (GCIS) would be responsible for rolling out the NHI's communication strategy.

READ HERE | Damning SIU report on Digital Vibes reads like a 'mafia movie' - DA

Mkhize denied this, saying Cabinet resolved to let the Department of Health take the lead in the NHI communications and not GCIS.

He said his application was not an indication that he was suggesting the appointment of Digital Vibes was proper and lawful.

"I emphasise that I was not involved in such irregularity. The findings and inferences made seeking to relate me to it are what is challenged in the application.

"From the outset, I must emphasise that I personally played no role, directly or indirectly, in the procurement process of the department, resulting in the award of the contract to Digital Vibes. I became aware of its appointment two months after this happened," he said.

Mkhize argued that he received no personal benefit, directly or indirectly, from Digital Vibes or persons associated with it.

"This, too, the SIU conceded in questioning me," he said.

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