Former health minister Zweli Mkhize’s name has surfaced in another Special Investigating Unit (SIU) investigation – this time in connection with a tender that ballooned from R3.5 million to R114 million.
News24 reports that a contract awarded by the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) provincial treasury to Universal Security Services (USS) in 2007 was irregular.
The SIU investigation was completed in February 2021.
Mkhize was KZN’s Finance and Economic Development MEC at the time.
USS was awarded the tender to provide forensic risk services for a project called Operation Unembeza
An affidavit by a SIU investigator stated that KZN treasury’s former head Sipho Shabalala wrote a letter to Mkhize motivating for Operation Unembeza to be rolled out to all provincial government departments.
It is not clear if Mkhize replied to Shabalala’s letter.
Project Unembeza was, however, rolled out to all provincial government departments shortly afterwards , with the cost of the project jumping from R3.5 million to R114 million.
“The appointment of USS was further extended when a letter was written to the MEC Dr Z L Mkhize, Minister of finance and economic development, on 8 February 2008 by Mr Shabalala. This letter motivated Project Unembeza to be rolled out to all provincial departments and was allocated other budgets for the next few years,” the investigator’s affidavit said.
The report further alleges that the SIU found the contract was flawed and had been awarded irregularly.
The SIU said papers will be filed with the Special Tribunal to have the contract declared unlawful and invalid and then set aside.
These latest revelations come after Mkhize was implicated in the R150 million communications tender awarded to Digital Vibes by the Department of Health.
His family and close associates were also implicated.
The investigation by the SIU showed how millions in public funds were spent on, among others, home improvements, a hair salon and nail franchise, luxury holidays and designer clothes by Mkhize’s associates and family members.
Digital Vibes, a communications company, was purportedly owned by Mkhize’s close associate Tahera Mather.
Although Mkhize denied any wrongdoing, he was placed on precautionary suspension in June.