[imagesource: Brandan Reynolds / Business Day]
Our health minister, Zweli Mkhize, is currently on ‘special leave’ amidst an investigation into the Department of Health’s R150 million Digital Vibes communications contract.
A qualified doctor, allegedly helping people connected to him plunder funds in the midst of a deadly pandemic.
Let that sink in.
As time has worn on, further details have emerged related to the contract, including the farcical saga of Pelo, a 3D Nguni cow character outfitted in a doctor’s coat and spectacles.
The big news over the weekend relates to the 90-page affidavit the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has filed at the Special Tribunal investigating the alleged corruption, reports The Sunday Times:
Zweli Mkhize’s communications consultants roped in a cash ‘n carry boss to help them launder public funds, using dodgy electronic fund transfers (EFTs) to mine the cash that was then collected by Mkhize’s son Dedani.
These are among the explosive allegations contained in a Special Investigating Unit (SIU) affidavit. It claims to lay bare the rot in Mkhize’s office, detailing how funds were clandestinely milked from the department of health.
The affidavit provides a window into an SIU report that is now with President Cyril Ramaphosa. The president is under growing pressure to act on his health minister, who he put on special leave in early June after an exposé by Daily Maverick.
Former president Jacob Zuma’s cabinet reshuffles used to be the stuff of nightmares, and there is talk of President Ramaphosa weighing up doing the same.
Maybe, rather than shuffling inept comrades from one department to the next (here’s looking at you, Fikile), we can put politicians in charge who are actually knowledgeable in their respective departments? Just a thought.
The number of people allegedly in on the take is staggering, with this graphic just about summing it all up.
You can click on the image below to open in a new window if you need a slightly larger version:
Mkhize is only directly accused of benefitting to the tune of R6 720 (which he has strenuously denied), but the implication is that he benefitted via kickbacks from many of those other payments.
The Daily Maverick has highlighted the SIU report’s allegations that Mkhize’s son, Dedani, collected boxes and parcels stuffed with cash from Digital Vibes director Radha Hariram, meeting regularly with her at a fuel station in Stanger, KwaZulu-Natal:
…it is understood that Mkhize’s meetings with Hariram took place during 2020, when Digital Vibes was being paid millions of rands in staggered tranches for a National Health Insurance (NHI) and Covid-19 communications contract.
The SIU has argued that the contract had been unlawful and it is now seeking an order to have it set aside.
The unit also wants to recover the full R150-million from an array of first, second and third-tier recipients of the alleged loot, including Dedani and Zweli Mkhize, and from the scheme’s alleged masterminds, Tahera Mather and Naadhira Mitha.
Dedani Mkhize has denied the allegations.
Investigative journalist Pieter-Louis Myburgh, who has been behind much of The Daily Maverick’s reporting on the scandal, hinted on social media that more is still to come:
— Pieter-Louis Myburgh (@PLMyburgh) August 1, 2021
Take the gloves off, and let’s see the worst you have to offer.
Just in case you needed another reminder of why President Ramaphosa needs to act swiftly to rid our departments of the criminally corrupt:
Comment: Just to note that draft NHI legislation (drawn up by Mkhize’s team) makes a Health Minister and his/her hand-picked board responsible for about a gazillion Rands spending in future. Loot-fest loading unless civil society runs it. https://t.co/kiKozv2wmx
— Ferial Haffajee (@ferialhaffajee) August 1, 2021
The looting will never end, as long as those responsible aren’t made to face the consequences of their actions.
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