The Democratic Alliance (DA) has called on the National Prosecution Authority (NPA) to investigate and prosecute the ‘Digital Vibes 4’ alleged to have defrauded the national health department millions of rands.
The four are former Health Minister, Dr. Zweli Mkhize, the Director-General, Dr. Sandile Buthelezi, Deputy-Director General, Dr. Anban Pillay, and Chief Financial Officer, Ian Van Der Merwe.
In a statement on Wednesday, DA Deputy Shadow Minister of Health, Siviwe Gwarube said the Special Investigating Unit’s (SIU) report on Digital Vibes lay bare the degree of corruption prevalent within the ruling party, which is evident in all facets of government.
The SIU found that Mkhize lied about not benefiting from the contract with Digital Vibes, even though both he and his son, Dedani did.
According to the report, Dedani was paid R300 000 and transferred R160 000 to a car dealer, adding that the car was registered in his name.
The report further stated that Digital Vibes paid for repairs to Mkhize’s home while he was still minister.
“Mkhize overruled Cabinet’s decision to allow Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) to handle the National Health Insurance (NHI) media campaign, and then sanctioned Digital Vibes to handle it. This is unexplainable why the then minister allowed the extension of the Digital Vibes SLA with the department to include the COVID-19 media campaign. The GCIS could have rendered the required services at a far more cost-effective rate.”
Despite approving a quotation of only about R35 million for the Covid-19 media campaign, a report revealed R125 million had been spent on the campaign.
In spite of Mkhize’s claim that costing was done for the Digital Vibes contract, the SIU found no evidence of it. In this case, the price was clearly inflated from R35 million to R125 million under Digital Vibes.
The SIU found Dr. Buthelezi contravened provisions of the Public Finance Management Act, while Dr. Pillay violated the Public Finance Management Amendment Act (PFMA), committed fraud, and a criminal investigation was recommended.
The report further alleges Van Der Merwe violated the PFMA.
“We strongly encourage law enforcement to pursue the Digital Vibe 4 and their collaborators without fear or favour. The DA will not let go of this case until justice is done for those who died due to the country’s fight against the pandemic, while the government encouraged resource theft,” Gwaeube said.
“We brought criminal charges against Mkhize and Buthelezi on June 3, 2021. We now request a response from the police regarding our criminal complaint, and for their investigation to extend to Pillay and Van Der Merwe, as mentioned in this report.
“Health Minister Dr. Joe Phaahla should get rid of all those implicated in the Digital Vibes scandal pending a criminal probe,” said Gwarube.
Gwarube slammed Ramaphosa for holding onto the report for 3 months, saying he used delay tactics to not make it public.
“President Ramaphosa must take full responsibility for this scandal. “He publicly thanked the former minister for stepping down after this scandal broke, despite having this report in his possession and knowing its damning contents,” said Gwarube.
The SIU report, the result of an investigation into the irregular awarding of the Digital Vibes contract, has revealed that individuals inside the Department of Health had been involved in the awarding of this contract and may be guilty of corruption.