Experts: Mkhize failed by not being aware of Digital Vibes contract

The minister held a briefing on Wednesday and announced that a forensic audit found there was an irregular awarding of a tender to Digital Vibes.

FILE: Health Minister Zweli Mkhize. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - Public policy experts say Health Minister Zweli Mkhize failed in his duties following his admission that he was not aware of a contract awarded to a communications company owned by his associates.

The minister held a briefing on Wednesday and announced that a forensic audit found there was an irregular awarding of a tender to Digital Vibes.

However, he said he did not have any knowledge of the company and the procurement process for a COVID-19 communications campaign.

Mkhize may have sought to create some distance between himself and the administrative functions of the department he heads but ended up demonstrating a lack of oversight through the admission.

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Amanda Gouws, a political science professor at Stellenbosch University, said: “He had oversight over this and he needed to know where the money was going. He can’t say he didn’t know or wasn’t aware. The last place where the buck stops, is with the minister. If he didn’t know, then he wasn’t doing his job.”

Meanwhile, political economy expert Dale McKinley said President Cyril Ramaphosa had to ensure Mkhize was held accountable or he would lose credibility.

Especially following the furore about the step-aside provision in the ANC’s resolutions.

“People are tired of these excuses; we want to see accountability particularly when the funds are meant to be used for COVID and the most vulnerable. I think that’s what makes it worse.”

The Special Investigating Unit is yet to complete its investigation into the Digital Vibes matter, which was first raised by the Auditor General when probing COVID-19 related procurement.

WATCH: Mkhize explains his relationship with Digital Vibes owners

At the same time, the ANC integrity commission said it was still gathering the facts about Mkhize’s implication in the irregular tender.

The commission looks into complaints of unethical or immoral conduct by ANC members, which could bring the party into disrepute.

Mkhize denies he benefitted from the deals and has denied there was any wrongdoing on his part, the ANC integrity commission appears to believe he may have a case to answer.

George Mashamba, the commission’s chairperson said: “We wait for people to come and we look into the issues. If the person doesn’t come, then we call them.”

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