Digital Vibes charged 'grossly inflated' R1.1m for animated NHI mascot - Myburgh
- Investigative journo Pieter-Louis Myburgh reports that Digital Vibes charged the health dept R1.1 million for an animation project that an outsourced studio produced for less than R300,000
- It's alleged that Digital Vibes delivered Pelo, an animated mascot for the National Health Insurance (NHI), at a mark-up of 314%
- Before cashing in on the Covid-19 pandemic, Digital Vibes was originally contracted to provide communications work for the NHI
- Myburgh says the R1.1million invoice for the animated 3D NHI mascot is one of many dubious billings from Digital Vibes
Digital Vibes reportedly billed the Department of Health (DoH) R1.1 million for an outsourced animation project that cost only R266,000 to produce.
That's according to investigative journalist Pieter-Louis Myburgh, who first uncovered the irregular Digital Vibes communications contract for Daily Maverick's investigative unit Scorpio.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has been placed on special leave after being implicated in the multi-million rand contract his department awarded to Digital Vibes, a company linked to two of his close associates.
In the latest instalment in Scorpio’s investigation, Myburgh reveals that Digital Vibes billed R1.1 million to deliver an animated mascot for the National Health Insurance (NHI).
The firm paid a local animation studio roughly R266,000 to create 'Pelo', the 3D cow mascot.
According to Myburgh, this amounts to a 314% mark-up by Digital Vibes, which netted R834,000 in pure profit.
More expensive than Wagyu beef... How #DigitalVibes charged @HealthZA R1.1m for Pelo the NHI cow by adding a 314% mark-up on the animators' bill, among more than R20m in other dubious NHI communications charges. New @dailymaverick #Scorpio investigation https://t.co/LNdz3hBaDd pic.twitter.com/pNwYwzqtFq— Pieter-Louis Myburgh (@PLMyburgh) June 17, 2021
In total, Digital Vibes pocketed R150 million from the DoH, for communications work relating to the Covid-19 pandemic and NHI rollout.
These contracts are currently being investigated by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU).
Scorpio estimates that at least R23 million out of R150 million can be attributed to billings linked to NHI projects.
According to Myburgh, Digital Vibes charged the Department R1.2 million for "creative proposals" outlining the companies intended NHI work.
He says the company also charged the DoH R250,000 for “WordPress completion” (WordPress is a free, open-source website tool); R200,000 for “raw video footage” and R150,000 for “placement of opinion pieces”, among other curious billings.
Pelo is the latest discovery in our ongoing investigation into the Digital Vibes scandal contract.Pieter-Louis Myburgh, Investigative journalist - Scorpio/Daily Maverick
During the earlier phase of the Digital Vibes contract... they did these various NHI communications projects and one of them was creating or delivering at least an animated 3D mascot to the department.Pieter-Louis Myburgh, Investigative journalist - Scorpio/Daily Maverick
Very much in line with how the company operated, they didn't create it themselves, it was invoiced to an animation studio.Pieter-Louis Myburgh, Investigative journalist - Scorpio/Daily Maverick
The studio charged less than R300,000 but Digital Vibes billed the department R1.1 million which is a 314% markup to pocket about R800,000 pure profit from the deal.Pieter-Louis Myburgh, Investigative journalist - Scorpio/Daily Maverick
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