The Department of Health says it is keeping mum on allegations of corruption against Health Minister Zweli Mkhize’s associates “out of ensuring that there is no interference with the ongoing investigations”.
This is on the back of mounting allegations of impropriety, first revealed in February this year by the Daily Maverick’s investigative unit, Scorpio, which reported that communications company Digital Vibes appointed Mkhize’s long-time aides to work on the department’s communication services on Covid-19.
The department on Monday responded to media queries about the contract and their perceived silence on the matter, saying:
“The non response to various media queries by the department and the minister is out of ensuring that there is no interference with the ongoing investigations and all the necessary information and documents is shared with the investigators.
“Interviews have been held with affected parties, various actions to uncover the details into the allegations have already been embarked on.
“At this stage we can only confirm that the decision for the investigation to be conducted externally by entities with the necessary capacity was important as it has unveiled some glaring irregularities that will certainly have to be responded to.
The department said it was reluctant to respond to the allegations publicly, outside of the “formal investigative process” and asked that it be given space.
“We, however, wish to plead with the media and members of the public that the department be give more time. It would not at all serve much of a purpose if allegations that are under investigation are responded to publicly and not through an already established formal investigative process that will lead to proper legal recourse / action being taken.
On Sunday the Daily Maverick ran an exposé of how Mkhize’s former personal spokesperson and long-time friend, Tahera Mather and former personal assistant, Naadhira Mitha, are allegedly at the centre of a massive communications deal from the health (DoH).
Speaking to 702’s Clement Manyathela, investigative journalist Pieter-Louis Myburgh revealed startling allegations by the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA’s) investigation that Mather, Mitha, and other third parties pocketed roughly R90 million in suspicious payments emanating from a R150 million Covid-19 and National Health Insurance communications contract.
Additional reporting by Siyanda Ndlovu