Mkhize must step up to the plate and play open cards about alleged irregularities

FF Plus

Mkhize must step up to the plate and play open cards about alleged irregularities
Mkhize must step up to the plate and play open cards about alleged irregularities

It is time for the Minister of Health, Zweli Mkhize, to respond with honesty to the questions about Digital Vibes and the seemingly irregular appointments made in his Office and Department.

In May 2020, the FF Plus asked the Minister in writing whether his Department had awarded any Covid-19 tenders and if so, what the names of the companies in question are and whether the normal procurement procedures had been deviated from.

The Minister’s response indicated that no tenders were either issued or awarded and that goods and services were solely procured and provided by deviating from the normal procurement procedures.

During this time, the name of the company Digital Vibes came up and, in this regard, the Minister said that the company was respectively paid R35 million and R2 million to work on a Covid-19 communication strategy and to handle media interviews.

The names of seven other companies also came up and the total amount paid to them added up to approximately R83 million. One of these beneficiaries was the Protea Hotel Resort in Limpopo where the first people repatriated from Wuhan were accommodated for an amount of R11 million.

The FF Plus enquired some more and asked Mkhize whether his Department was not setting a bad example by procuring goods and services for such a great amount, particularly because the normal procurement procedures were not followed, which immediately casts suspicion on it.

Mkhize’s answer was that the emergency measures in terms of the Disaster Management Act were used to deviate from the normal procurement procedures. This was despite the fact that thousands of other repatriated individuals had no choice but to stay in terrible conditions at various quarantine facilities across the country.

The FF Plus is of the opinion that Section 27(2)(L) of the Disaster Management Act was grossly exploited to benefit those who have close ties with the Minister.

The Minister’s actions just before and after the outbreak of Covid-19 raised many such questions and the many media reports on further possible irregularities, like the vehicles reportedly procured for his son, only strengthen the suspicions of malpractices.

With regard to irregularities relating to appointments, the FF Plus already asked the Minister in writing in February 2020 to provide clarity on the appointment of his cousin, Ms Sibusisiwe Ngubane Zulu, as his chief of staff.

At the time, the FF Plus wanted to know whether the correct procedures had been followed in making the appointment seeing as there had been rumours that Ms Zulu may be able to influence the implementation of the National Health Insurance (NHI).

In his written reply to the FF Plus, Mkhize indicated that the appointment was made in terms of Regulation 66(2) of the Public Service Regulations and that the Minister was, therefore, not required to follow the normal appointment procedures.

The FF Plus is imploring Minister Mkhize to step up now and to be honest with the people of South African by providing clarity on all these matters before the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) issues its report at the end of June 2021 as the report could have serious repercussions for Mkhize and the Department of Health.

Read the original article in Afrikaans by Philip van Staden on FF Plus