Sharon Seretlo, Gallo Images
- The Digital Vibes scandal has become the latest political football between the ANC and DA in Parliament.
- During a health portfolio meeting on Friday, the DA accused the ANC of blocking the committee from holding former Health Minister Zweli Mkhize accountable.
- Mkhize reportedly pressured officials to sign off and approve the contract with Digital Vibes, which his close associates own.
The DA says ANC MPs prevented Parliament from holding former Health Minister Zweli Mkhize accountable for his involvement in the Digital Vibes scandal.
On Friday night, Parliament’s Health Committee was briefed by the Health Ministry and Department on the steps it intends to take against officials involved in the Digital Vibes matter.
This week, the damning report by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) was made public and placed the acting director-general, Anban Pillay, at the centre of the scandal.
Former Health Minister Zweli Mkhize was also a critical figure in the matter as he reportedly pressured officials to sign off and approve the contract with Digital Vibes.
DA spokesperson on health Siviwe Gwarube said the ANC members of the health portfolio committee should hang their heads in shame.
“They used their majority in the committee to block us from summoning the former Minister and his senior management to account for Digital Vibes several months ago.
“These MPs did not only block accountability and oversight but failed the people of South Africa. How will stability in the department be handled following the suspensions? What are the consequence management plans in place that will go hand in hand with the NPA process,” she asked.
Gwarube also requested information on the government’s Vooma vaccination programme.
“We cannot allow this to be yet another Digital Vibes 2.0,” she said.
In response, ANC MP Tshilidzi Bethuel Munyai said:
We kept our commitment. At that time, when the report is ready, it will be brought before this committee. That has been done. The phenomenon of corruption is not new. As the ANC now, we are experiencing upheavals since democracy. There are party leaders who grandstand, who are parading as anti-corruption, yet they are campaigning on corruption. They are using this report as a weapon to act us. It’s desperate campaigning in the wrong platform.
So far, seven officials have been suspended for their role in the Digital Vibes matter.
Health Minister Joe Phaahla said a top priority is replacing those who have been suspended.
“We have already started a process to bring back an administrator who has been in the North West. Even though numbers are down, we anticipate some resurgence in December, and we need officials to manage. It is our top priority to ensure that these matters don’t drag on,” he said.
The health department initially contracted Digital Vibes for the National Health Insurance (NHI) campaign in 2019.
Former health minister Zweli Mkhize reportedly pressured officials to appoint the company owned by his close associates Tahera Mather and Naadhira Mitha. Mkhize later resigned.
The work was expanded to include communications on Covid-19 and the firm scored R35 million before the department approved its work.
The SIU argued irregular expenditure amounting to approximately R150 million and fruitless and wasteful expenditure amounting to between R72 million and R80 million was incurred by the department.
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Publish date : 2021-10-01 18:11:35