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How Auditor-General, whistle- blower lifted lid on Digital Vibes

Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency

Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency

Published Oct 2, 2021


Cape Town – Health Minister Joe Phaahla says the shenanigans in the department were first picked up by the Auditor-General when she lifted the lid on the irregularities in the Digital Vibes contract.

Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke was conducting an audit in the department when she found there were irregularities in the tender.

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A law firm of Ngubane and Associates was then brought in to investigate, and then the Special Investigating Unit also sought to probe the matter and asked President Cyril Ramaphosa to be granted a proclamation.

Phaahla was briefing members of the portfolio committee on health when he explained how the Digital Vibes contract came to the attention of the department, Ramaphosa and the SIU.

“The first time it was the flagging of overcharging by the Auditor-General. But once the Ngubane team came in, they flagged serious irregularities in terms of the procurement process,” said Phaahla.

He admitted to MPs there were lapses in the department and they did not pick this up earlier.

“It’s quite clear there were some failings in terms of internal mechanisms, in terms of internal audits and the external audit. The fact that this was picked up by the Auditor-General, and subsequently soon after that there was a whistle-blower reporting to the SIU.

“That is why a few weeks after Ngubane and associates were appointed, the SIU indicated that they have been briefed by a whistle-blower and they also made a submission then to the president to be granted the authority to go further into investigation and the president duly gave that authority and signed the proclamation giving authority to the SIU to investigate this matter,” Phaahla said.

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He said it was through all these processes that they became aware of what was going on.

Digital Vibes had initially been given a contract in 2019 to deal with the issue of the National Health Insurance.

However, when Covid-19 broke out, the scope was then changed to handle communication around the pandemic.

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But without these processes they would not have known about what was happening, he said.

Political Bureau