by Naadiya Adams
Health Minister Mkhize is being pushed to step down following a media briefing on Wednesday regarding an irregular tender awarded to a digital company owned by alleged friends of the minister.
A forensic investigation found that a R150 million communications contract with communications company, Digital Vibes, did not go through due processes.
The public has expressed outrage since the briefing with many calling for the Minister to step down, critics argue that he may use his power to interfere in the investigation if he remains in office.
During the briefing, Minister Mkhize said he was saddened by the public’s response, but understood the indignation.
The report was compiled by Ngubane tax assurance advisory firm who confirmed that the contract was irregular and constituted unnecessary and wasteful expenditure.
The minister denies benefitting from any of the tenders – regardless of being close colleagues and friends with those implicated. Mkhize went on to say that the investigation is on-going and for that reason, much of the information will remain confidential.
“We have been legally advised that we cannot fully disclose the details of the report at this stage or the plan of action that is already under way. Detailed public disclosure may jeopardise remedial action that is being undertaken,” Mkhize said.
The department has been largely silent over the matter, though it first came into the public eye in February this year when The Daily Maverick revealed that Digital Vibes had received R82-million in Covid-19 expenditure from the Department of Health (DoH).
Digital Vibes was appointed by the DoH in late 2019 for a communications project with the National Health Insurance (NHI) programme, but as Covid-19 became a reality, its scope of work was extended.
According to the Daily Maverick, Digital Vibes is based in Johannesburg but the managing director of the company is a KwaZulu-Natal local named Radha Hariram – on further investigation it was revealed that Hariram had no involvement whatsoever in Digital Vibes, he is in fact an employee at a petrol station in Stanger- only his name was used on company documents.
Behind the scenes are Tahera Mather and Naadhira Mitha – two long-time associates and alleged friends of Mkhize – who are not named as directors of the company but are running the company.