SIU ‘will meet Digital Vibes probe deadline’

Date: 21 Jun 2021

THE Special Investigating Unit (SIU) is adamant that it will meet the deadline to hand President Cyril Ramaphosa a report on its investigations into the Health Department’s decision to award a R150million tender to Digital Vibes.

Spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said yesterday the SIU was not commenting on progress in its investigations, but said the unit was working very hard to meet the June 30 deadline and hand over its findings to Ramaphosa.

Earlier, Kganyago said: “We promised to complete our investigation by the end of this month, but we have to brief the president first, especially about the Digital Vibes probe. We will have to brief him if there are any referrals for disciplinary action to be taken. If our investigation finds any wrongdoing in the awarding of the tender, we will then approach the Tribunal Court for the cancellation of the contract and the recovery of the money.

“If there is any criminality, we will then refer the matter to the Hawks and National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for prosecution,” Kganyago said.

Digital Vibes was awarded a R150m contract for communications work. The deal had initially focused on the National Health Insurance, but was expanded last year to include Covid-19 communication work. The company is owned by Health Minister Zweli Mkhize’s former private assistant, Tahera Mathera, and his former spokesperson, Naardhira Mitha.

Recent revelations in the media alleged that Digital Vibes paid for maintenance work at the Mkhize’s “family property”, north of Joburg, and transferred money into the account of a company owned by Health Minister Zweli Mkhize’s son, Dedani.

It was also revealed that Digital Vibes, in May 2020, transferred R160000 to a Pietermaritzburg car dealership for a 2003 Toyota Land Cruiser. According to the reports, the car was subsequently registered in Dedani Mkhize’s name. The car was apparently used at a farm outside Pietermaritzburg, which is owned by Dedani Mkhize.

These allegations prompted DA Health spokesperson Siviwe Gwarube to open a criminal case against Mkhize and the Health Department’s director-general, Dr Sandile Buthelezi.

Zweli Mkhize is due to appear before the ANC’s integrity commission to explain his alleged role in the awarding of the tender. Mkhize has denied any involvement, but admitted that Digital Vibes did pay for maintenance at his house. He said his family was of the view that such funds should be repaid.

Meanwhile, the ANC has confirmed that its staff audit was under way, following a protest march by some of their employees, regarding unpaid salaries. The ANC’s general manager, Fébé Potgieter, says employees have been given until today to give Luthuli House their titles, as the party conducts a staff audit.

She said the process started in 2019, but was disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are in the process, as per the 54th ANC national conference resolutions, of reviewing the ANC administrative structures and policies, with a view to modernise and promote sustainability.

“This process started in 2019, and was interrupted by Covid-19, resulting in new challenges, as well as opportunities, especially with the use of technology. The staff audit is part of that process, focusing on employees’ core skills but also how remote work and use of technology have impacted job descriptions, tools of trade, working conditions and hours, etc,” said Potgieter.

BALDWIN NDABA AND TARRYN-LEIGH SOLOMONS

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