Tensions were high during a health portfolio committee meeting on Thursday, as MPs demanded answers about the department’s allegedly irregular R150-million Digital Vibes contract.
Thursday was the first time acting health minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane appeared before the committee, but she did not have many answers for MPs.
Despite Kubayi-Ngubane’s plea to focus on the more pressing matter at hand — the country’sCovid-19third wave — committee members were adamant that their questions about Digital Vibes should be heard. Before he was placed on special leave, Mkhize failed to appear before the committee to answer questions about the contract. He said he had been legally advised not to do so, because the matter was sub judice.
But the committee was told on Thursday by its legal advisers that Mkhize should have appeared, because although an investigation into the matter was underway, it was not yet in court. Kubayi-Ngubane and the health department’s director general, Sandile Buthelezi, were left to respond to the issues about Mkhize and the contract. Numerous questions were raised, but few were answered.
The Democratic Alliance’s Siviwe Gwarube, together with members of the National Freedom Party, Freedom Front Plus and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) wanted specifics from the department about Mkhize’s role in the contract: Who benefited from it? What procurement process was followed? Who signed off the contract? They also wanted to know about the availability of an auditor general report. headtopics.com
Kubayi-Ngubane was able to offer only snippets. She confirmed that several officials were involved in the alleged wrongdoing, but said their names could not be disclosed, because “the process cannot be compromised”, referring to the ongoing probe by the
(SIU).She confirmed the SIU report was due to be completed by the end of June. Buthulezi also dodged specifics by placing all questions under the umbrella of the SIU investigation. He did concede that there was a possibility that the department had been “overcharged” for certain services.
The department’s chief financial officer, Ian van der Merwe, said that the value of the Digital Vibes contract was initially R140-million. He added that the department recognised that it needed “to reprioritise revision budgets extensively”. The acting minister, acknowledging the frustrations of committee members, said: “I want to emphasise honourable members, what would help is to allow [the] SIU that is drilling down on detail to do the investigation [and to] come to the portfolio committee, because we are also waiting for that investigation to give us more detail”.
While trying to answer questions about the contract and the third wave, Kubayi-Ngubane was interrupted by the EFF’s Naledi Chirwa.Chirwa claimed the department of health had misled parliament about Covid-19 statistics and the number of healthcare workers who had been vaccinated. headtopics.com
“I just want the minister to respect me and I will respect her as well. She cannot say that it is for this reason or that reason. She must answer the question,” said Chirwa.Kubayi-Ngubane said Chirwa had made a serious allegation, which should be backed up by proof.
But instead, the interruptions from Chirwa continued, eventually leading the ANC’s Mxolisa Sokatsha to compare her to a “headless chicken”, because it was “not the first time” Chirwa had been disruptive.Chairperson Sibongiseni Dhlomo consequently removed Chirwa from the virtual platform.
Subscribe to the M>hanks for enjoying theMail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.Read more: Mail & Guardian »
WATCH: EFF March to Phoenix turns rowdy as protesters stone buildings
The EFF march in Phoenix township in the North of Durban on Thursday turned rowdy and violent.
MPs erred by not questioning Zweli Mkhize on Digital Vibes scandal, says legal adviser“The oversight role cannot be completely compromised purely on the basis of an allegation that there is a sub judice rule,” said senior parliamentary legal adviser Siviwe Njikela. Was impressed with Siviwe & wondered if committees ve access to such clear legal minds it can only mean they deliberately ignore advice. Sibongiseni is a disaster 🚮 Geoffreypreud believing in you is one thing every investors should do in other to gain massive payouts from your platform thank you so much sir 💯🤭 ANC always see nothing with corruption.
Internal probe finds Health Department’s Digital Vibes contract ’irregular’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 implicated bid committee members We need to get vaccinated against the likes of these felt of health chaps Send them to tribunal RSASIU VusiSambo “Irregular and fruitless expenditure” is thieving, it’s corruption, someone came up with these euphemisms to avoid labeling his comrades as thieves.
Health department asks for patience over SIU's Digital Vibes probeNational health department director-general Dr Sandile Buthelezi on Thursday pleaded with the members of the portfolio committee to allow him not to disclose the names of officials who have been found guilty in the Digital Vibes scandal. everyone keeps on talking about your diligence and honesty I must say that you are the best, thank you for transforming my life for the better financially JAmSRcharD
Digital Vibes contract: Nehawu president calls on Mkhize to pay back the money | CitypressMzwandile Makwayiba, president of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu), on Thursday called on Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize to pay back the R150 million awarded to Digital Vibes by his department. So I can steal… if caught pay back the money…?and all is forgiven Eish!! And account I believe I just want to say thank you to JAmSRcharD I was nobody in the pass until a friend of mine introduced me to you I never thought I could make money online but it's clearly real thanks you
SCORPIO: Digital Vibes scandal: Meet ‘Dr’ Pelo, the National Health Insurance’s literal R1.1-million cash cowBefore Covid-19, South Africa’s pending National Health Insurance programme presented the politically connected communications firm Digital Vibes with ample opportunity to milk the public purse. We can now shed light on an animated National Health Insurance cow mascot with a 314% mark-up, along with other dubious billings from the firm. PLMyburgh PLMyburgh its getting deeper PLMyburgh Absolutely beggars belief how brazen these criminals are... its like stealing candy from a baby!
Legal opinion finds MPs cannot hide behind sub judice rule to fail to hold the executive to account | CitypressParliament’s portfolio committee on health were told on Thursday that Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize cannot rely on the sub judice rule to avoid discussing the Digital Vibes contract. Its not the he did not know