Health Dept suspends contracts given to Zweli Mkhize’s associates

The company used Mkhize's long-serving personal assistant Tahera Mather, as well as another close associate, Naadhira Mitha, as paid consultants.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize. Picture: Abigail Javier/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The Health Department suspended the controversial contracts given to Minister Zweli Mkhize's associates.

Last month, the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) told Eyewitness News that it's investigating a formal complaint regarding the tenders awarded to little known communications company Digital Vibes.

The Daily Maverick was first to report that the KwaZulu-Natal business was awarded an R82 million contract by the department for COVID-19 projects.

The company used Mkhize's long-serving personal assistant Tahera Mather, as well as another close associate, Naadhira Mitha, as paid consultants.

Digital Vibes was also awarded a contract from the Cooperative Governance Department during Mkhize's short stint as minister in that portfolio.

The Daily Maverick is reporting that department head Popo Maja confirmed the contract was suspended due to an ongoing probe by a forensic investigator appointed by the department.

Meanwhile, Mkhize told reporters on Friday at the Grey's Hospital in Pietermaritzburg that he welcomes the SIU probe.

The minister spoke at the health facility where the first confirmed COVID-19 patient was treated last year.

He said taxi drivers and traditional healers will be vaccinated against COVID-19 from next month.

Opposition political parties accused him and the department of not being truthful for failing to clarify whether the country’s current vaccination programme is a clinical trial or an official rollout plan.

But on Friday, the department revealed that the current inoculation programme is technically and legally part of a study.

The minister says the country had no other option but to go this route.

“The only way South Africa could get this vaccine was to register an implementation trial which doesn’t deal with issues of safety, it’s just to see what happens after people have been vaccinated. We’re doing a study to see what happens thereafter.”

Mkhize appealed for patience among South Africans during the vaccination programme.

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