SCORPIO 168 Department of Health suspends dodgy R82m Covid-19 communications contract By Pieter-Louis Myburgh for Scorpio PLMyburgh
The Department of Health has suspended a questionable Covid-19 communications contract while it is being probed by a forensic investigator. The SIU is also investigating the contract.
The Department of Health (DoH) has suspended the services of Digital Vibes, an obscure communications ﬁrm linked to two close associates of Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize.This comes after Daily Maverick recently reported that Digital Vibes secured emergency procurement orders from the department for Covid-19 awareness campaigns valued at R82-million.
Zweli Mkhize’s ‘family friend’ and ex-private secretary pocket Covid-19 cash via R82m Department of Health contractsWe revealed that Tahera Mather, 55, Mkhize’s long-time personal spokesperson, and Naadhira Mitha, 30, his former personal assistant, beneﬁted from Digital Vibes’ DoH contract by working for the company as paid consultants.
The ﬁrm was ﬁrst roped in by the department in late 2019 to deliver communications services for the National Health Insurance (NHI) roll-out, but its services were extended in March 2020 to include Covid-19.This week marks one year since the pandemic arrived in South Africa. headtopics.com
Unlike some provincial health departments, the national department has so far been spared major scandals relating to its emergency procurement.The Digital Vibes matter could change all of that.On Friday, DoH spokesperson Popo Maja conﬁrmed that the department had suspended Digital Vibes’ contract.
He said this was done because of an ongoing probe by a forensic investigator appointed by the department.The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) is also investigating the contract.“Our instructions are that the contract was not terminated but suspended to facilitate and allow the SIU investigation,” Digital Vibes’ principal director, Radha Hariram, said through her attorney.
Company records present Hariram as Digital Vibes’ boss. When the company passed resolutions, for instance, Hariram signed the paperwork. But several factors suggest she was not really in charge of Digital Vibes’ business dealings. Rather, it appears that Mkhize’s associates, Mather and Mitha, pulled the strings.
Scorpio has established that Hariram worked at a fuel station in her hometown of Stanger in KwaZulu-Natal while Mather and Mitha oversaw the DoH communications work from an oﬃce in Johannesburg.Hariram and Mather, who also hails from Stanger, have known each other for many years, according to Hariram’s lawyer. headtopics.com
Much of our focus so far has been on Mather, who practically clung to Mkhize as his communications aide since his days as the ANC’s Treasurer-General. She played a key role during his unsuccessful #Unity campaign to win the party’s top position at the ANC’s Nasrec conference in 2017.
Scorpio can now reveal that Mitha, who is Mather’s niece, worked in Mkhize’s oﬃce at the DoH right up to the point when she moved over to Digital Vibes as a consultant.This happened at the end of March 2020, when Digital Vibes began shifting its focus from the NHI to Covid-19.
“Naadhira Mitha worked as the Minister’s Personal Assistant,” the DoH conﬁrmed.“She then resigned after advising that the Ministry work was taking a toll on her personal life due to the extensive travelling. She also wanted to pursue better work opportunities that would allow her to grow as a BCom Accounting graduate whilst being based in the same city with her family,” the department added.
This ﬁts with a timeline of events informed by several source accounts and related information.“Naadhira [Mitha] joined Digital Vibes somewhere towards the end of March or early April,” said one individual with direct knowledge of the company’s DoH contract. headtopics.com
In other words, Mitha allegedly left her position as Mkhize’s PA to take up a lucrative consultancy gig with a company that had just secured a fat communications deal from her former boss’s department.Mitha has so far shown little interest in discussing the matter.
She vowed to comment before our ﬁrst story went out, but never did so. Since then, she has been ignoring our messages and she won’t answer our phone calls.By the looks of it, Mather has also gone to ground.Mkhize’s departmentsWhen the name Digital Vibes ﬁrst caught our eye in the National Treasury’s (NT) Covid-19 emergency expenditure records, we quickly caught sight of a few red ﬂags.
The company was registered to Hariram’s home address in Stanger. And we couldn’t ﬁnd much in the way of a track record that backed up its ability to deliver on large communications projects.The government’s tender bulletins reﬂected only one earlier contract awarded to Digital Vibes before the DoH deal, which led us to another red ﬂag.
In 2018, the company scored a R3.9-million communications contract from the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Aﬀairs (Cogta).At the time, Mkhize happened to be the minister in charge of Cogta, his ﬁrst position in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Cabinet after Nasrec.
In 2019, after Mkhize had been moved to the DoH, Digital Vibes won the NHI communications contract.So it appeared as if Digital Vibes had been following Mkhize from department to department.Around the time that Digital Vibes secured the Cogta deal, Mather worked as Mkhize’s personal spokesperson.
But she had two jobs.We found content on her social media pages that appeared to be linked to the Cogta communications contract.Before she slid oﬀ the radar, Mather admitted to Scorpio that she had worked as a consultant to Digital Vibes for the Cogta project, just as she had done after Digital Vibes secured the DoH deal.
So not only does it appear as if Digital Vibes followed Mkhize wherever he went, but his personal spokesperson happened to beneﬁt from consulting gigs directly linked to contracts from two separate departments under Mkhize’s leadership.It remains to be seen whether this was pure coincidence.
The DoH’s director-general, Dr Sandile Buthelezi, has strongly denied that Mkhize inﬂuenced the 2019 contract.“The minister in any government department is not involved in any procurement process. That is the full prerogative of the sitting accounting oﬃcer at that department based on the PFMA [Public Finance Management Act],” Buthelezi told 702’s Clement Manyathela after our ﬁrst exposé.
Mather and Mitha may have left the scene, but Hariram has been ﬁelding our queries through her lawyer.Some of her responses are quite interesting. We wanted to know how a company with no apparent footprint in the communications space managed to land such lucrative government deals.
“Many small Black companies do not have websites, operate from a home oﬃce and albeit quite ‘new’ have Government tenders. Investigate this,” she countered.We pointed out to her that some of the DoH’s key staﬀers involved in the NHI and Covid-19 communications projects hadn’t heard of her. They had only ever met and worked with Mather and Mitha.
Hariram was unphased by this.“Is it a law or rule that a director of a company must work with or have personal interactions with their clients or customers? Probably most of Checkers and Pep stores staﬀ do not know who Christo Wiese is or how he looks.”
But how did Hariram juggle her responsibilities as an employee at the fuel station in Stanger with her duties as Digital Vibes’ boss?“Radha was not needed on a full-time basis for this contract. She had consultants to [do] the work. Please do not forget that Radha is a director, and she did not have any obligation to do any work (like an employee) for Digital Vibes,” stated her lawyer in reference to the 2018 Cogta contract.
Finally, we wanted to know if Hariram really had zero experience in the communications business.“Is it also necessary for a director of a company to have a personal background in respect of the business the company conducts? This is ridiculous at best,” stated Pillay.Read more: Daily Maverick »
Join our Cloud HD Video Meeting
Zoom is the leader in modern enterprise video communications, with an easy, reliable cloud platform for video and audio conferencing, chat, and webinars across mobile, desktop, and room systems. Zoom Rooms is the original software-based conference room solution used around the world in board, conference, huddle, and training rooms, as well as executive offices and classrooms. Founded in 2011, Zoom helps businesses and organizations bring their teams together in a frictionless environment to get more done. Zoom is a publicly traded company headquartered in San Jose, CA.
PLMyburgh Mkhize is an utter crook. PLMyburgh 🤣 PLMyburgh I was worried when I wanted to invest but, I thank God I have invested with the right account manager Ericwalker01 I got my my money back with profits just as he said, I want everyone who See's this to start investing with Ericwalker01 now
Zweli has done something to pis off this machine... I entrusted Ericwalker01 with my money since I took rush of investing my money with his platform, I've never regretted it and my life has changed for good. Get in touch with EricWalker01 to get started PLMyburgh I entrusted Ericwalker01 with my money since I took rush of investing my money with his platform, I've never regretted it and my life has changed for good. Get in touch with EricWalker01 to get started
PLMyburgh Great, but will there be consequences for the facilitator DrZweliMkhize or will we have to wait for half baked excuses and warnings to 'step aside' NtshwareleRepublic PLMyburgh myanc is a looting machine. The evidence has been piling up since 1999. PLMyburgh But I do not see anyone arrested. A major coverup by the anc again looking after their corrupt and thieving members
PLMyburgh New month !!! bonus !!! Only 30 serious person's needed 💱 Work from home with your smartphone and start earning $3,200 every 48 hours and $7,600 weekly Ask me How No hidden fee No Charges involved No Scam Only serious minded person's WhatsApp number +1(505) 309-5297 PLMyburgh The headline should read 'Dodgy Health Minister suspended'
But what is going to happen further. Who is going to be arrested. Surely this is going to go the anc way. Covering of fellow deployed caders caught with their fingers in the cookey jar PLMyburgh Very bad choice of pictures!! PLMyburgh Is there any big government contract that isn't tainted by corruption?
Just suspending it isn’t sufficient- if there’s reasonable evidence of wrongdoing it needs to be actively pursued and action taken against those implicated in this case! PLMyburgh Only because they were caught! DrZweliMkhize CyrilRamaphosa TreasuryRSA tito_mboweni MYANC corrupt to the core. Thieves. Every. Last. One. ANCMustFall VoetsekANC
PLMyburgh Thank you, PLMyburgh and team... you give hope in a hopeless situation. I was so happy when I open my wallet and Saw my payment of $11,000 with my initial capital of $1000 the help of Rolandwolf123 thank you sir