Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has broken his silence, in the wake of a report which suggests possible wrongdoing on his part in the awarding of contracts to the tune of R82 million by his department.
Daily Maverick had reported that two associates of Mkhize had been appointed as consultants by Digital Vibes, a KwaZulu-Natal-based company, which has irregularly received contracts from the Department of Health for COVID-19-related projects. It was further learnt that the same company had also received tenders from the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) in 2018, during which Mkhize was minister.
The two so-called family friends are Tahera Mather, Mkhize’s long-serving personal spokesperson and Naadhira Mitha, a former assistant private secretary in Mkhize’s office at Cogta.
However it seems the report was no surprise to the minister as he claims in January 2021, the Director-General gave him an update on ongoing investigations, which were based on either audit reports or whistleblowing.
“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,” Mkhize said.
“At the time, he sought guidance on whether this must be done by Internal Audit. Given the fact that other investigations had been done externally because of lack of capacity internally to investigate, I advised the Director General to procure the services of an external independent service provider to investigate this”
Mkhize welcomes SIU’s intervention into ‘dodgy’ Health Department contracts
Zweli Mkhize further said as the department, they welcome the Special Investigating Unit’s (SIU) probe into the tenders.
“This is part of the commitment we made that allegations of any form of corruption made must be investigated. This remains important for the Department of Health as it is expected to continue implementing government’s plan and strategy to our COVID-19 response,” Mkhize further added.
“Because these allegations have raised public interest, we do commit that the outcomes of the investigation will be accordingly reported to the public.”
Calls for Mkhize to be fired following the revelations have been mounting.