Health Minister Joe Phaahla responds to the findings and recommendations contained in the Special Investigating Unit report into the department’s award of the National Health Insurance media campaign and subsequent Covid-19 communications to Digital Vibes. Photo: GCIS
Health Minister Joe Phaahla responds to the findings and recommendations contained in the Special Investigating Unit report into the department’s award of the National Health Insurance media campaign and subsequent Covid-19 communications to Digital Vibes. Photo: GCIS

I was not involved in Digital Vibes appointment, insists Phaahla

By Kailene Pillay Time of article published Sep 30, 2021

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Johannesburg – Health Minister Joe Phaahla on Thursday denied any wrongdoing related to the Digital Vibes saga, despite being deputy minister at the time.

Phaahla was former minister Zweli Mkhize’s deputy when the Digital Vibes contract was awarded and the alleged mismanagement of monies took place.

In a media briefing held on Thursday morning, Phaahla was questioned as to how the scandal escaped his eye when he was deputy minister.

He said he was not consulted or involved in any of the decisions taken when the appointment of Digital Vibes took place.

“I invite you all to read the report. It is not a question of bad-mouthing (one’s) colleagues but, if you look at the report, you won’t find any indication that as deputy minister I was consulted on the appointment,” Phaahla said.

While briefing the media, he said that the money lost in the Digital Vibes saga could have been “fruitfully” used in the country’s vaccination roll-out programme and other educational material.

He held the media briefing alongside Deputy Minister Sibongiseni Dhlomo and acting director-general Dr Nicholas Crisp.

He said the department had been inundated with public and media enquiries on the implementation of the report findings and recommendations.

He gave the assurance that all officials implicated in the report would receive their suspension notices by the end of the day.

He added that the decision to lay criminal charges against the officials would come from the Special Investigating Unit (SIU).

“However, now that the report has been completed and handed over, it gives us more confidence to take further steps in tightening our systems,” Phaahla said.

The SIU made damning findings against Mkhize and top Health Department officials in relation to the department’s R150 million Digital Vibes deal.

The report was made public on Wednesday.

Mkhize quit his job in August before President Cyril Ramaphosa’s cabinet reshuffle.

The SIU, meanwhile, has called for Anban Pillay, the former acting director-general of the national Health Department, to be charged.

Political Bureau

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