Nearly 820 million euros in contracts related to the fight against Covid-19 are the subject of investigations for corruption in South Africa, including a case concerning two relatives of the Minister of Health, Zweli Mkhize. So far, 63 cases of officials suspected of being involved have been transmitted to the national prosecutor and 87 companies have been blacklisted and will no longer be able to win public contracts.
“We are at a critical stage of the investigation. I can’t go into details […] We are investigating all charges. The Minister expressed his cooperation “Special Investigations Unit (SIU) chief Andy Mothibi said in an online session in parliament on Wednesday (June 2).
Face of the fight against the pandemic and promised a bright future within the African National Congress (ANC, in power), Zweli Mkhize is in turmoil: last week, several media revealed that his ex-spokesperson, Tahera Mather, and his former personal assistant, Naadhira Mitha, have reportedly received millions of rand in irregular payments linked to a communication contract around the Covid-19. The ministry recognized “Flagrant irregularities which will certainly have to be addressed”, claiming ” a little time “, which earned him a lot of sarcasm.
Fraud and inflated prices
Investigators are reviewing more than 4,000 contracts for services and supplies related to the fight against Covid-19. About 40% of suspicious contracts have been examined, Mothibi said. “We continue to receive new allegations of mismanagement and irregularities”, he added. Its unit, under the supervision of the Ministry of Justice, has been interested since last year in dozens of companies, some linked to political networks, which have been awarded lucrative contracts as part of the government’s fight against pandemic.
The SIU had already revealed in February that the equivalent of nearly 14 million euros had been siphoned off last year by corruption, fraud and inflated prices for protective equipment provided to public hospitals. Zweli Mkhize, Minister of Health since 2018, then undertook to limit the possibilities of fraudulent behavior, in particular around “Contractual matters” within his ministry.