South African President clears report on corruption scandal

On Wednesday, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa authorized the publication of the report of the Special Investigation Unit on the “Digital Vibes” scandal in which several officials are implicated, including former Health Minister Zweli Mkhize.

“The head of state received the findings of the report, in July this year, and sent notices to all those mentioned, giving them the opportunity to object to its publication,” the Presidency said in a statement, explaining that this was done in the interests of fairness and in accordance with the Promotion of Access to Information Act.

The 100-page report describes how millions of taxpayer Rands were improperly paid to “Digital Vibes,” a communications firm hired in March 2020 by the Department of Health to work on public communication about Covid-19.

The funds were wasted on repairs to the former health minister’s home and the purchase of a Land Cruiser for his son, among other things, the report states, noting that the company failed to report corporate income tax and VAT.

Two relatives of the former minister, accused of pocketing millions of euros in irregular payments from the contract, are under investigation.

Under the Ministry of Justice, the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) has been investigating dozens of companies, some linked to political networks, that have been awarded lucrative contracts in the government’s fight against the pandemic since last year.

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