Khusela Diko takes leave after R125m PPE tender scandal linked to husband
Johannesburg - President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Khusela Diko, has taken leave of absence following allegations of her husband’s involvement in an alleged PPE tender scandal, the Presidency said on Monday night.
This comes after reports in the Sunday Independent that Diko’s husband, Amabhaca King Madzikane II Thandisizwe Diko, had been awarded tenders to the tune of R125 million by the Gauteng Department of Health to supply personal protective equipment (PPE).
Last week, Ramaphosa signed a proclamation that would allow the Special Investigating Unit to probe corruption around Covid-19 social relief funds being stolen or misused.
He made the announcement while addressing the nation on Thursday.
The president reiterated that while the measures put in place to provide economic relief for businesses and South Africans had been reaching those in need, he was concerned about funds intended for PPE being abused and the overpricing of goods.
He said the SIU would investigate allegations related to the misuse of Covid-19 funds in all areas of the state.
“If the SIU finds evidence that a criminal offence has been committed, it is obliged to refer,” he said at the time.
Meanwhile, the Sunday Independent revealed that Diko’s company, Royal Bhaca Projects (RB), was awarded contracts worth R125m by the Gauteng Department of Health on March 30 - days after the president announced a national lockdown.
Royal Bhaca scored two contracts worth R47m and R78m, respectively, for the supply and delivery of PPEs to the department.
Royal Bhaca’s contracts were part of R2.2bn PPE tenders awarded to 75 companies by the Gauteng Health Department since March 30, 2020, the Sunday Independent reported two weeks ago.
In another Sunday Independent report this past weekend, the newspaper shunned the spotlight on the relationship of Khusela and Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku’s wife, Loyiso.
The newspaper alleged that Royal Bhaca had been awarded the lucrative tender in a bid to fund Loyiso’s bid to become Joburg mayor. It was alleged that the money would be used to buy votes.
In a statement on Sunday, MEC Masuku denied any involvement in the Health Department’s procurement processes and said the allegations levelled at him were groundless.
But on Monday afternoon, the SABC reported that Masuku and Diko had been hauled to an urgent meeting by the Gauteng ANC leadership.
In a short statement on Monday, the Presidency said: “The Spokesperson to the President, Ms Khusela Diko, has requested The Presidency to allow her to take leave of absence from all official roles in government, pending investigations on recent allegations involving her and her husband in tender irregularities in the Gauteng Department of Health.
“The Minister in The Presidency, who is her immediate supervisor, as well as the President of the Republic, have accepted her request for leave of absence whilst the allegations are being investigated.
“The Presidency has appointed Mr Tyrone Seale to act in the position of Spokesperson to the President whilst Ms Diko is on leave,” it said.
The DA and the EFF were among political parties which had called for action to be taken against Diko on Monday.
EFF leader Julius Malema had called for Diko to be suspended, while the DA’s health spokesperson Siviwe Gwarube said she would be writing to the president to include the PPE contracts awarded in Gauteng to be included as part of SIU proclamation he announced last week.