SIU to probe R82m health tender after Zweli Mkhize's associates allegedly linked to deal

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Health Minister Zweli Mkhize.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize.
Darren Stewart/Gallo Images
  • The Special Investigating Unit has launched a probe into a tender awarded to a KwaZulu-Natal communications company.
  • The company was awarded the contract for communications services for the National Health Insurance rollout before scoring Covid-19-related work.
  • It's alleged that two women close to Health Minister Zweli Mkhize secured consultancy payments from the tender.

The Special Investigating Unit has launched an investigation into a tender which the national Department of Health awarded to a small company that is allegedly linked to close associates of Health Minister Zweli Mkhize.

The unit's spokesperson, Kaizer Kganyango, said on Wednesday that it had received a complaint about the multimillion-rand tender awarded to a small KwaZulu-Natal-based communications company that trades as Digital Vibes.

He said the SIU had already started with the investigation and that it would probe all aspects of the appointment of the service provider.

READ | Covid-19: Ramaphosa, Mkhize get vaccine jabs

On Tuesday, Daily Maverick revealed that Mkhize's longtime personal spokesperson and alleged family friend, Tahera Mather, and Naadhira Mitha, who was Mkhize's secretary when he was the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), had benefited from the tender.

Mather and Mitha were allegedly paid as consultants by Digital Vibes and this raises concerns of a conflict of interest.

The report described Digital Vibes as a small obscure communications company that had no website, nor any real footprint in the communications industry.

Despite this, the company allegedly scored a Cogta contract while Mkhize was at the helm in 2018 and was later appointed through a closed tender to provide communications services for the National Health Insurance rollout in late 2019.

READ | WHO will pay out a lump sum for vaccine side effects from Covid-19 Covax programme

According to Daily Maverick, the scope of the contact was extended in March 2020 to include communication services for Covid-19 and orders have since been obtained from the health department for projects valued at R82 million.

News24 has asked Mkhize and Mather to comment on the allegations and is yet to receive a response. The response will be added once received.

Denied

Daily Maverick reported the department denied that there was a conflict of interest but added that it was investigating the matter.  

The DA has also called for an investigation into the tender and said the allegations were very serious.

"Corruption during this Covid-19 pandemic has reached crisis levels," DA MP Siviwe Gwarube said in a statement.

"We have seen politicians use their influence and proximity to certain individuals to improperly award contracts; siphon public money and not be held accountable for their crimes."

"That is why it is important for the president to act swiftly and ensure that the facts around this alleged improper contract are exposed and those guilty of this egregious crime are held accountable."

Gwarube added that Mkhize, who is leading the country's response to the Covid-19 pandemic, cannot have a cloud hanging over his head, which relates to the possible abuse of state resources.

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