- Health Minister Zweli Mkhize says he supports an investigation into the Department of Health's contract with Digital Vibes.
- It is alleged that two paid consultants at the company have personal ties to him.
- The Auditor-General flagged the R82 million contract as irregular.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said the Department of Health's director-general Sandile Buthelezi flagged the department's contract with Digital Vibes - whose paid consultants have ties with Mkhize - for further investigation earlier this year and he advised that an external investigator be appointed.
On Wednesday, the Daily Maverick reported that an obscure communications company, Digital Vibes, with his former personal spokesperson and family friend Tahera Mather and his former private secretary Naadhira Mitha as paid consultants, secured an irregular communications contract from the Department of Health worth R82 million for work related to the pandemic.
On Thursday, Mkhize addressed the National Council of Provinces on government's vaccine rollout plan.
DA MP from Gauteng Mbulelo Bara asked Mkhize to provide clarity on the matter.
Mkhize said around January, his DG met with him to provide an update on ongoing investigations at the department.
Buthelezi informed Mkhize that the auditor-general made findings against the Digital Vibes contract and found it irregular, and Buthelezi recommended that it be investigated further.
"I fully supported this view, and asked him to go ahead," Mkhize said.
Buthelezi sought his advice on whether it should be investigated by the department's internal audit unit or an external investigator, and Mkhize advised him to appoint an external investigator because other investigations had been done externally because of a lack of internal capacity.
"Where there are allegations of irregularities brought to our attention, we must investigate this," he said.
He also promised that the results of the investigation would be publicised.
On Wednesday, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), said it was already investigating the matter.
Mkhize said he welcomed the SIU's investigation.
Mkhize didn't say a word about his alleged personal ties with Mather and Mitha.
Earlier in the briefing, he said the department had learnt lessons from PPE corruption.
"We must deal with corruption," he said.
He also called on civil society and political parties not to politicise matters related to the pandemic.
"I would like to appeal to our leadership in society and in the political parties that we need to keep the fight against Covid-19 non-partisan and we need to work together to demystify the vaccinations and deal with the myths and misinformation."
He said it was clear that the country was now in a situation "where we believe the opportunity exists for our people to overcome the virus".
He said vaccinating 40 million people, possibly more, was the only way to beat the pandemic.