Report implicates former South African health minister, others in coronavirus contract scandal
Zweli Mkhize accused of lying to nation about benefiting from $10M contract
A new report investigating corruption in South Africa’s Health Ministry on Wednesday implicated former Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, who resigned last month for interfering in the awarding of a $10 million coronavirus communications contract.
The much-anticipated report by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) was released and made public by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
It found that Mkhize lied to the nation in May when he said at a news conference that he nor his family benefited from the contract awarded to Digital Vibes.
“This denial was, objectively speaking, untrue, as the Minister’s son and the Minister himself had directly benefitted from Digital Vibes, who in turn had benefitted from the National Department of Health contracts,” it said.
Money obtained from the contract was partly used to buy the Mkhize’s son a car. He was also given $20,000, while the minister had his private property refurbished with proceeds.
According to the SIU, the contract given to Digital Vibes, a company owned by close associates of Mkhize, was awarded without following proper government contract procedures.
The SIU ordered the former Acting Director-General in the Health Department during the COVID-19 campaign, Anban Pillay, to be criminally prosecuted for financial misconduct. It also implicates five others.
Despite finding grounds to prosecute several health officials, SIU recommended executive action only against Mkhize.
Mkhize, an influential member and former Treasurer General of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party, has denied any wrongdoing.
He told SIU investigators that he never asked Digital Vibes to pay for maintenance funds for his property but an employee approached the company with an offer to pay, without his knowledge.
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