Tuesday, 16 April, 2024
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Mkhize continues to claim innocence on Digital Vibes allegations

Former Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize, apparently eyeing election to the ANC presidency, is pinning his hopes on being able to refute the damning Digital Vibes report that cost him his Cabinet job, reports the Sunday Times.

Mkhize, insisting he did nothing wrong, reportedly took issue with the report by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) that implicated him and family in the Digital Vibes scandal. In October last year Mkhize applied for a review of the findings in the Gauteng High Court (Pretoria), and filed a supplementary affidavit last week. The SIU is expected to file its own affidavit within 30 days.

The SIU report last year found Mkhize may have contravened the Public Finance Management Act and referred him and his son Dedani to the NPA. The allegations against Mkhize included that he may have influenced the decision to award a R150m tender to communications company Digital Vibes – a company owned by his associate Tahera Mather – and that some of the proceeds of the contract were paid into Dedani’s bank account. Mkhize, who resigned as minister in August last year, accused SIU investigators of ignoring evidence he presented to them that could have led them to reach a different conclusion. He said the SIU had relied heavily on the evidence of former DG Precious Matsoso, but she had been contradicted by other witnesses, including his former chief of staff Ntombifuthi Ndlovu and former head of communication in the Department of Health Popo Maja.

Mkhize reportedly told the Sunday Times he was not surprised Matsoso had implicated him because they had had a tense relationship even before he became health minister. In its report the SIU cited a text Mkhize sent to Matsoso that it said showed he had an interest in the awarding of the contract. The text reads: “Hi DG. Kindly sort out contractual arrangement. Please ask for preliminary NHI implementation plan and draft communication plan by Friday from each individual as discussed.”

Mkhize said the message made no reference to Digital Vibes, and his interest was in making sure that the communication plan was being implemented. “The former DG, a year before I came in, she was in the media having fought with the minister (Aaron Motsoaledi) about her unhappiness with NHI,” he said. “There are stories where she had a lot to say against the minister on the NHI issue. I had engaged on this issue even before I became minister (of Health), to say, why is she delaying the issues of NHI? So there was the issue of the tension.”

Matsoso reportedly told the Sunday Times that she disputes Mkhize’s version but did not elaborate.

SIU spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago said the unit would only respond to Mkhize in court. Asked if he had raised a red flag about Mather’s participation in the tender, Mkhize claimed he had not objected to the appointment of Digital Vibes because the executive plays no role in the awarding of tenders.

 

Sunday Times Pressreader article – Ex-health minister takes on SIU to save his political career (Open access)

 

See more from MedicalBrief archives:

 

Health oversight committee ‘shielded’ Mkhize during Digital Vibes scandal

 

SIU report into Digital Vibes: More heads on the block

 

Health DG cleared in Digital Vibes contract probe and returns to work

 

Mkhize 'welcomes' SIU probe into claims of COVID tenders for friends

 

 

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