DA opens criminal case against Dr Zweli Mkhize over Digital Vibes debacle
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Johannesburg - The DA has opened a criminal case against Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize over the Digital Vibes debacle.
DA MP Siviwe Gwarube opened the case on Thursday at the Cape Town police station.
The case also includes Department of Health (DoH) director-general Dr Sandile Buthelezi.
The DA believes a criminal investigation has to be pursued as various allegations against Mkhize have surfaced despite his denials that he never benefited from an R150 million communication contract awarded to Digital Vibes by the DoH.
It has been reported that associates including Tahera Mather, Mkhize's former assistant, and his former spokesperson, Naadhira Mitha, had involvement in a company called Digital Vibes.
Digital Vibes was awarded the R150m contract for communications work. The deal had initially focused on the National Health Insurance but was later expanded last year to include Covid-19 communication work for the DoH.
Digital Vibes is accused of inflating pricing and doing work that the department could do internally.
It was also reported that a house owned by Mkhize's family trust had renovations financed by Digital Vibes. The company had also purchased a vehicle for Mkhize's son, Dedani.
These incidents took place in 2020 while the contract was in place.
An internal investigation at the DoH found the contract was awarded irregularly in contravention of the Public Finance Management Act.
The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) is also investigating the contract and indicated that the probe would be concluded by end of t;his month, SIU head Andy Mothibi told Parliament on Wednesday.
Mkhize has resisted pressure to resign, insisting that he had not benefited from the contract. He said he was co-operating with the investigation.
Meanwhile, President Cyril Ramaphosa has indicated that he would only take action after the SIU had concluded its investigation and made findings.
The DA said the SIU probe was not enough and that a criminal probe was needed.
"He (Mkhize) cannot be entrusted with leading the national response on Covid-19 while there are damning allegations levelled against him. The president needs to instruct the minister to step down pending the full investigation by the SIU. The minister cannot continue being both the player and the referee in an investigation that he is the centre of,“ said Gwarube.