A former employee at Health Minister Zweli Mkhize’s Ikusasa Le Afrika Foundation (ILAF) is among a coterie of individuals linked to the health minister who benefited from a contentious R82m COVID-19 communications deal. Daily Maverick reports that Yenzi Sokhela, originally from KwaZulu-Natal, worked as a communications specialist at the Pietermaritzburg-based foundation before she joined Mkhize’s so-called #Unity campaign ahead of the ANC’s Nasrec conference in 2017.
Mkhize founded ILAF in 2013 and still serves as its chairperson, according to the organisation’s website.
DM reports that it was reliably learned that Sokhela started working for Digital Vibes in early 2020, after the company had secured a lucrative communications contract from the Health Department. It also independently obtained documents that list Sokhela as a Digital Vibes employee.
Digital Vibes was first appointed in late 2019 to deliver communications services for the Health Department’s National Health Insurance (NHI), but its scope of work was extended in March 2020. The company ultimately secured orders for work related to COVID-19 valued at R82m.
DM reports that its contract was suspended in early March following Scorpio’s initial exposé.
At Digital Vibes, Sokhela worked alongside Mkhize’s long-serving personal spokesperson and alleged family friend, Tahera Mather, and Mather’s niece, Naadhira Mitha.
DM reports that it has previously reported that Mather and Mitha started working as “consultants” to Digital Vibes after the company secured the lucrative DoH contract. But sources familiar with the matter have alleged that Mather and Mitha ran the show at Digital Vibes. Sokhela, Mather and Mitha were all key members of Mkhize’s #Unity campaign in 2017.
DM reports that this means at least three members of the #Unity campaign have benefited from COVID-19 expenditure from Mkhize’s department.
Sokhela did not answer her cellphone or respond to detailed queries sent on WhatsApp, the report says.
DM reports that it has also found links between a fourth Digital Vibes employee and Mkhize. Welcome Mthethwa, who according to documents joined Digital Vibes in March 2020, is the husband of former ANC staffer Makhosazana Mthethwa. She worked at the party’s department of information and publicity, a communications unit that operates from the ANC’s headquarters at Luthuli House in Johannesburg.
According to ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe, Mthethwa left the ANC “over a year ago”.
Like Mather, Mitha and Sokhela, the Mthethwas also originally hail from KwaZulu-Natal.
DM reports that it sent queries to Mkhize’s spokesperson at the Health Department, Lwazi Manzi, and to Popo Maja, the department’s spokesperson. “We will try to meet your deadline,” Maja is quoted as saying but neither responded.
The Health Department earlier denied that Mkhize had played any role in the appointment of Digital Vibes.
[link url="https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2021-03-16-bad-vibrations-more-links-to-zweli-mkhize-in-health-departments-r82-million-digital-vibes-saga/"]Full Daily Maverick report (Open access)[/link]
See also MedicalBrief archives:
[link url="https://www.medicalbrief.co.za/archives/health-dept-suspends-contract-linked-to-mkhizes-associates/"]Health Dept suspends contract linked to Mkhize’s associates[/link]
[link url="https://www.medicalbrief.co.za/archives/mkhize-welcomes-siu-probe-into-claims-of-covid-tenders-for-friends/"]Mkhize ‘welcomes’ SIU probe into claims of COVID tenders for friends[/link]
[link url="https://www.medicalbrief.co.za/archives/mkhizes-associates-score-from-covid-19-and-nhi-contracts/"]Mkhize’s associates score from COVID-19 and NHI contracts[/link]