Audit into Digital Vibes contract not yet over, says auditor-general
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Auditor-general Tsakani Maluleke says the outcome of the investigation into the R150 million Digital Vibes contract irregularly awarded by the Department of Health will still be assessed by her office.
The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) and Ngubane Tax Assurance Advisory Firm conducted separate probes into the awarding of the contracts for communication strategy of the National Health Insurance and Covid-19, when former health minister Zweli Mkhize was the political head of the department.
The SIU has previously indicated that new information on the contract was furnished and it was following up on them.
In her audit contained in the department’ s annual report, Maluleke said the investigations by the two entities could have an impact on the matters reported in the department’s 2020/21 financial statements, compliance with applicable legislation and other related matters.
“These reports did not form part of my opinion on the financial statements or my findings compliance with legislation.”
Maluleke noted that the department disclosed in the financial statements that the payments made on the contract was irregular and that further action was dependent on the outcome of the SIU investigation.
She said the corruption-busting body, which also investigated an allegation of irregularities, has concluded its work on June 30 and the report was presented to President Cyril Ramaphosa for consideration and sign-off.
“The further outcome of the investigation will be assessed when the report is released,” Maluleke said.
The SIU report, made public by Ramaphosa last month, fingered Mkhize in interfering in the awarding of the tender to his associates Tahera Mather and Naadira Mitha by sending repeated WhatsApp messages to former director-general Malebona Matsoso.
The SIU instituted the investigation after it received allegations from a whistle-blower regarding potential irregularities in the awarding of the NHI media campaign and the subsequent extension and variation to include services for the Covid-19 media campaign.
It said it was alleged by the whistle-blower that Mkhize had a vested interest in the appointment of Digital Vibes and that the appointment of Digital Vibes had been irregular.
The corruption-busting body said R150m in irregular expenditure and fruitless and wasteful expenditure amounting to between R72m and R80m was incurred by the department.
The report said Digital Vibes had “appointed” Mather and Mitha as purported contractors for purposes of the NHI media campaign.
But, it was found that the pair used Digital Vibes as a front in order to hide the fact that they were tendering for the contract and “disguised” the fact that they were close associates of Mkhize.
The former minister resigned from the executive to become an ordinary MP.