Khusela Diko dares ANC on step aside, analysts warn many more will follow suit
Johannesburg - Khusela Diko, the spokesperson for President Cyril Ramaphosa who was put on ice after her late husband, Inkosi Thandisizwe Diko, corruptly scored a Covid-19 PPE tender has challenged the ANC in Gauteng, saying she cannot be forced to step aside.
Through her lawyers, Diko said there is nowhere in the ANC constitution where it says senior members must disclose the business interests of their spouses. As such, the Povincial Disciplinary Committee (PDC) erred in finding her guilty and paving the path for her to be told to step aside.
Political Professor from the University of the Western Cape, Bheki Mngomezulu, said Diko’s fight back is a sign that when the April 30 deadline for ANC leaders to step aside kicks in, there would be challenges, fight backs and possibly, defiance.
In Diko’s challenge of the decision, she roasted the provincial executive committee (PEC) of the Gauteng ANC for saying she should step aside until the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) winds up its investigation over the dubious tender.
Diko was charged with “engaging in any unethical or immoral conduct… and behaving in a manner or making utterances which brings or could bring or has that potential to bring or as a consequence thereof brings ANC into disrepute”.
The charges emanate from findings that in July last year her late husband, Inkosi Thandisizwe Diko of the Bhacas, illegally scored a R125 million personal protective equipment (PPE) tender with the Gauteng Department of Health.
Her lawyers said after the PDC sentenced her, she indicated that she intends to appeal its decision using all constitutional means.
“The PDC’s findings in this matter are wholly irrational and if left unchallenged, will set a devastating precedent according to which members would be expected to be conversant and to comply with rules that do not currently exist, which include a directive to disclose a spouse’s business interests to the Provincial Office Bearers of the ANC.
’’Accordingly, she will be exercising her rights to review/appeal the factual, substantial, and procedural findings of the PDC in terms of Rule 25.35 and 25.36 of the ANC Constitution within the time frames prescribed by the Constitution,” her lawyers quoted a letter they wrote to the ANC in Gauteng.
“Nowhere in the decision of the PDC is a rule quoted or relied upon that places a responsibility on a member of the ANC to disclose a spouse’s business interest to the PEC or the Provincial Office Bearers.
“It was admitted by both the ANC witnesses as well as the PDC itself that no such rule or practice exists, and therefore the ruling consists of nothing more than their own beliefs and opinions on what they think ’should’ have been done in the circumstances, which opinions do not amount to the rules of the ANC.
“Comrade Diko therefore cannot be charged and sanctioned on the basis of what another member of the ANC believes she should have done,” the lawyers argued.
Mngomezulu said from the very beginning, the step aside resolution was vaguely written and it has many technicalities. He added that what made it even more complicated was that while the ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) said only those who have been charged should step aside, another letter from the office of the secretary-general, Ace Magashule, said anyone suspected of corruption should step aside.
“We can expect to see more members citing the example I have mentioned. Some will step aside while others will pit the country’s constitution against that of the ANC, while others would openly defy the instruction,” Mngomezulu said.
Political analyst, Thabani Khumalo, said as the step aside deadline approaches, members would defend themselves like Diko, who is already portraying herself as a victim who was being punished for the sins of her late husband.
“People will come up with many reasons not to step aside, some will quote the constitution of the country forgetting that step aside is not a legal matter but is a political principle,” Khumalo said.
He added that it would be hard for the ANC to suspend members as it would have to suspend almost 80 percent at the top, since most of them have some clouds hanging over their heads.
Bones Modise, the spokesperson of the ANC in Gauteng, said for now Diko and others must step aside as the decision of the PDC stands. However, he said they can appeal that decision later with the national disciplinary committee and they can do so while they are not in the office.