Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has welcomed the Special Investigation Unit’s (SIU) investigation into tender irregularities involving Digital Vibes.
According to a report by the Daily Maverick’s investigative unit, Scorpio, a little-known communications company from KwaZulu-Natal called Digital Vibes appointed Mkhize’s long-time personal spokesperson and his former private secretary as consultants to work on its projects for the department’s communication services on Covid-19.
Mkhize said the director general met with him in January and gave him an update on ongoing investigations in the department.
“These investigations are based on either audit reports or whistleblowing that would have been received. In relation to Digital Vibes, he advised that the auditor general had raised specific findings on the deviations that were implemented and found them to be irregular.
“He informed me that he had resolved to investigate these matters further and the actual contract in order to ensure that the department is not found wanting by having irregular tenders. I fully supported this view and asked him to go ahead,” said Mkhize.
Mkhize said he advised the director general to procure services of an external independent service provider to investigate the matter, as opposed to an internal audit, given that other investigations had also been done externally due to lack of capacity.
“We very much appreciate and support that- as part of accountability, clean governance and ensuring compliance with the PFMA and Treasury Regulations by the Department- where allegations of irregularities and non-compliance have been brought to our attention through an audit finding or whistleblowing, the department must interrogate these.
“We also welcome the statement by the SIU that they will also investigate these allegations. This is part of the commitment we made that allegations of any form of corruption made must be investigated.”
Mkhize said the SIU investigation is important as the department is expected to continue implementing government’s strategy to Covid-19 response.
He further committed that the outcomes of the investigation would be made public.
Meanwhile, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) says it will ensure Mkhize is “suspended with immediate effect to allow a smooth process of investigation”.
Compiled by Vhahangwele Nemakonde