By Naadiya Adams
The world is in turmoil amid the Covid19 pandemic, but the trenches of the crisis run deeper for South Africans as the man at the centre of the fight suspended Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, has been caught in a web of controversy as he is accused of fraud and corruption.
This week the Daily Maverick revealed that over R1m was laundered from the Department of Health through the R150 million payment that was made to Digital Vibes, to fund the Minister’s son Dedani Mkhize and his wife’s new salons.
The pair recently opened two upmarket nail and hair salons in Pietermaritzburg which was allegedly funded by the Department of Health, siphoned through the Digital Vibes National Health Insurance (NHI) tender.
Investigations are now being done into how the tender was awarded, in an interview with Radio Islam, advocate Stefanie Fick says the tender bid was awarded at double the amount of the rival bidders.
“This is again an example of a tender that was over inflated, there was pressure put on certain individuals within the department to make sure this contract happened,” says Fick.
She says the scandal started last year when Mkhize wanted to appoint his close friend Tahera Mather as a consultant in the department to deal with NHI but as the department needed to appoint a company as opposed to an individual, Digital vibes came to the fore and was coincidentally co-owned by Mather.
Daily Maverick’s Scorpio revealed that around R650 000 that flowed from the Department of Health’s (DoH’s) allegedly corrupt Digital Vibes contract went towards the start-up costs for Mkhize’s Daughter-in-law Sthoko Mkhize’s Tammy Taylor Nails outlet.
Reports also emerged saying monies totaling at least R446,000 had been diverted from the R150-million DoH contract to the account of a new hair salon, Gold Ace Cuts and Curls, co-owned by Dedani Mkhize. While a car installment of R22 000 for a brand new BMW for Dedani was also paid with DOH funds.
With a clear indication of the Minister’s involvement in the irregularities, and a report from the Special Investigative Unit implicating him, questions are being raised as to why President Cyril Ramaphosa has not axed Mkhize as yet.
Fick believes the answer is not a simple one.
“We know the former President fired the Finance Minister and tried to appoint someone with no previous experience, so there has to be caution… the President should apply his mind and he should look at all the evidence that’s available and there should be a process. So hopefully, and I really hope there is some kind of disciplinary process happening while we wait and then the President will make an announcement that the person is fired,” says Fick.
Fick says she hopes President Ramaphosa will not take the stance of “innocent until proven guilty before a court of law” as not all matters are criminal but rather unethical and it is a fireable offense.
Listen to the full interview here: