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SIU report links Mkhize to Digital Vibes contract

Former health minister Zweli Mkhize may have committed actions of criminality before he stepped down from his position in the department.

This is according to the damning report by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) presented to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) on Wednesday.

The SIU revealed this when it was briefing Scopa on its investigations into the procurement of PPE for Covid-19, and the Digital Vibes contract.

The Department of Health irregularly awarded a R150 million communication tender for Covid-19 and National Health Insurance to service provider Digital Vibes before the end of June.

Briefing the committee, SIU head Andy Mothibi said they were sure that Mkhize resigned before action was taken against him.

However, Mothibi said they were in a process of ensuring that accounting authorities and executive authorities, where the corruption busting unit found irregularities, were held to account

“We do so in terms of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) and other applicable rules,” he said.

Mothibi also said they were approaching them to explain how irregularities occurred, when they had responsibilities outlined in those legislations.

A report tabled to Scopa said one referral has been made, in connection to Mkhize in his capacity as the former minister.

In addition to the charges, Mkhize may have committed criminal acts, which are as follows:

• Failure to execute his function in compliance with the Constitution, general oversight responsibilities in respect of the affairs of the National Department of Health, and his obligations in terms of Section 63 of the PFMA;

• Causing irregular, fruitless, and wasteful expenditure to be incurred;

• Possible conflicts of interest in the appointment of Digital Vibes;

• May have been negligent when approving budgets, in respect of the NHI and the Covid-19 media campaigns; and

• May have acted contrary to a relevant Cabinet decision.

Briefing the committee, SIU lead investigator Johnny le Roux took the committee through their investigation into the Digital Vibes contract that picked up irregularities.

Le Roux said they have made several referrals for administrative, disciplinary and criminal action.

He also said seven matters, involving officials, were referred for disciplinary action for non-compliance with supply chain management processes and contravention of the PFMA.

There were 19 matters referred to the NPA involving fraud, corruption, and money laundering, by officials and private individuals.

He said the SIU has recovered R11.5m that was paid into its bank account, on August 26, by one of the companies for not work not performed.

Le Roux also said the SIU has identified R22m, contained in several bank accounts, resulting from cash flows from the Digital Vibes account.

A preservation order was granted to the SIU, by the Special Tribunal, on June 17.

“The SIU submitted and filed its review application on July 29, 2021, to set side the contract and to recover the full value of the contract,” Le Roux said.

—iol

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