Internal probe into WC Health Department finds improper conduct in Digital Vibes scandal
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Cape Town - The internal probe of the Department of Health into the awarding of a contract to service provider Digital Vibes has not only found the appointment irregular but also uncovered improper conduct by the bid committee members.
Director-general Sandile Buthelezi briefed Parliament’s portfolio committee on health yesterday, almost a week after Minister Zweli Mkhize took special leave while the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) is conducting its own probe.
Buthelezi said the department had received a final report from the auditor-general last December that raised red flags and requested the head of department to do further investigation.
Buthelezi said Ngubane Tax Assurance Advisory was appointed to probe the awarding of the contract, change of scope of the contract and whether the department received value for money.
He said a final report he received from Ngubane in May found the tender process contravened the Public Finance Management Act and the appointing of Digital Vibes was irregular.
“The irregularity findings include, amongst others, inconsistencies in the bid committees and lack of disclosure of conflict of interest by some members of the bid committee,” he said.
Buthelezi also said the R37 million paid to Digital Vibes constituted fruitless and wasteful expenditure.
He also said Digital Vibes received a request for work from the department on Covid-19 work prior to their contract being extended.
The department suspended the contract in February and reported the irregular expenditure to the National Treasury.
The department has started disciplinary proceedings against implicated officials and discussion with senior counsel to recover the funds.
Buthelezi said the department needed to wait for the SIU report in order to supplement the disciplinary process as new information may be presented.
Acting Health Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said they could not name the several officials who are implicated in the report as they have not been afforded an opportunity to answer and doing so could lead to missteps in disciplinary proceedings.
“What would help is to allow the SIU, as the most suitable entity that is investigating the matter and that is drilling down on the details, to come to the portfolio committee.”
Meanwhile, as the province enters a third wave, with an overall 63% week on week increase in Covid-19 cases in the Metro, health officials are urging residents to stick to protective behaviours to contain the spread.
“Case numbers are increasing rapidly now, and we are currently seeing an average of 766 new diagnoses each day. Admissions are increasing with an average of 76 new admissions per day. Deaths have also started to increase now with around 13 each day, although the absolute numbers remain small. The proportion positive has also increased markedly to an average of 16.2% now, and was 20.6% on Monday, June 14,” health head Dr Keith Cloete said.
There are currently 9 309 active infectious cases in the province, 3 507 more active cases (60%) in the last week alone.
The combined public-private oxygen utilisation was also now at 31.04 tons per day or 44.34% of the maximum production capacity.