Digital Vibes: 'To steal money in this way, in a pandemic, is scandalous'
According to an article in the Daily Maverick, the former personal spokesperson and long-time friend of Dr Zweli Mkhize, Tahera Mather, and Mkhize’s former personal assistant, Naadhira Mitha, are at the centre of a massive alleged looting frenzy enabled by a questionable communications deal from the Department of Health.
Digital Vibes, an obscure firm controlled by Mather and Mitha, received an eye-watering R150-million for questionable communications services linked to the department's nascent National Health Insurance (NHI) programme and government’s fight against Covid-19.
Of the R150-million Digital Vibes received from the department:
About R90-million was channelled to entities set up by Mather and Mitha, to businesses and personal accounts of Mather’s immediate family, and to other suspicious third parties, including the late AmaBhaca King Madzikane II Diko’s Royal Bhaca Projects.
Only about R40-million went towards recipients identified as legitimate service providers and other costs related to the department's contract. Roughly R20-million is still to be accounted for.
Mkhize, who had Mather and Mitha at his side as communications strategists during his so-called ANC #Unity campaign in 2017, appears to have been a key figure in Digital Vibes’ alleged scheme.
The company charged the DoH millions of rands for “setting up” Mkhize’s media briefings, interviews and other public engagements regarding the Covid-19 pandemic.
Digital Vibes even got paid for “coordinating” Mkhize’s announcement of South Africa’s second wave of coronavirus infections on SABC news in December 2020, a task that would normally fall to the department’s own communications officials.
Before the firm’s focus pivoted to Covid-19, Digital Vibes also submitted bills for NHI-related projects that appear to have been massively inflated.
Payments to a host of other entities and individuals are yet to be verified and could potentially add to the figure of R90-million in dubious transfers.
Communications consultant Chris Vick unpacks this.
There are all sorts of suggestions of insider trading and family ties, to steal money in this way, in a pandemic, is scandalous.Chris Vick, Communications consultant
People within the SABC have been saying on social media that the SABC was not paid for the time.Chris Vick, Communications consultant
It is wrong. The SIU (Special Investigating Unit) must get on top of this very quickly. There are questions about the Health Department and the ministry. There should have been much interrogation. It seems like it was a get-rich scheme for a particular family.Chris Vick, Communications consultant
Listen below for the full interview...