King Madzikane II Diko says he has no regrets about PPE tender
Sihle Mlambo and Baldwin Ndaba
Johannesburg – King Madzikane II Diko, the leader of the Amabhaca people, says he has no regrets about a controversial R125 million tender that landed his wife, Khusela, and the Masukus on leave of absence pending an investigation by the ANC Gauteng’s provincial integrity committee.
The Masukus are Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku and his wife, City of Johannesburg shared services MMC Loyiso Masuku
He also described the decision to place the trio on leave of absence as “unfortunate” and “irrational”.
Diko was speaking to the SABC on Thursday afternoon.
On Wednesday, in a joint statement released by King Diko and his wife, Khusela, the couple said they “deeply regret the error of judgement that led Royal Bhaca to seek to do business with the department in the first place”.
But on Thursday, Diko changed his tune: “Personally, I do not regret (bidding for the contract)”.
Diko said he did not receive an allowance from the state and was using his Royal Bhaca Projects business to serve his people.
“It is about raising resources so that I am able to serve the royal community. You asked me if I get an allowance and I said I don’t,” he said.
When asked if he would still bid for contracts from the state, he said he would, but in future would ensure there was no potential conflict of interest.
“I will still do it therefore, but where there seems to be a conflict of interest, I will consider.
“Royal Bafokeng is in business, why shouldn’t royalty venture into business?”
He also admitted the Dikos and Masukus had been in a joint business company which focused on running community development programmes, but the business had never traded and the close relationship between the two families pre-dated their respective roles in government, he said.
Meanwhile, the Provincial Integrity Committee was ordered to hear and conclude its investigations into Diko and the Masukus.
This was revealed by ANC Gauteng secretary Jacob Khawe after the party summoned Dr Masuku and Diko to a special provincial executive committee on Wednesday following a damaging Sunday Independent report against them.
It is alleged Royal Bhaca Projects charged taxpayers inflated prices for supplying and delivering one million medical waste plastic bags, and 500 000 dust masks, sanitisers and surgical masks each, according to official internal documents.
Khawe said Masuku and Diko provided an explanation to the committee which then decided to refer the matter to the integrity committee.
Diko said he did the work, but upon reflection, decided to withdraw the tender, saying explicitly: “Royal Bhaca was not paid a cent”.
On the ANC Gauteng decision to place the trio on leave of absence and subject them to a probe by the provincial integrity commission, Diko said the decision was unfortunate and irrational.
“It's an unfortunate irrational decision to me. She does not have anything to do with my business and I also speak about those who have been subjected to the integrity commission of the ANC, the Masukus have nothing to do with my business.
“When I got the tender, Khusela warned me about the tender. I decided to carry on because I did not want to pull out,” he said.
He said he had not informed Khusela about bidding for the contract until he had done so.
“She was uncomfortable about it, but I insisted with going on with the contract.
“One may be regarded close to political power – close to my wife – I did not want to agree with that.
“Is it illegal to do business because your wife is a spokesperson to the president? I don't think so.
“There are business people who are related to many people who are in politics, I am one of those. I had to focus on the objectives of what this business is. Traditional leaders need to be able to support their communities.
“I have a responsibility to support the community I come from. This was one of those ways to raise resources. I did not want to consider that my wife is in the Presidency.”
Diko said during his bid for the contract, no politician had been involved.
“No politician was involved during my inquiry into this contract, not the Masukus, not the MEC, not my wife. Here we are talking about what may be perceived as a conflict of interest. The Masukus had nothing to do with this.
“I then requested to pull out of the tender and I spoke to the supply chain unit of the department. On April 20 and 30, the department cancelled the tender based on our reflection because there could be a perceived conflict of interest,” he said.
He added Royal Bhaca Projects was involved in multiple types of work, but was also involved in supply and delivery – which was the component of the business in question for the Gauteng Health tenders.
Meanwhile, speaking from Johannesburg during the ANC Gauteng’s press conference on Thursday, Khawe admitted no proper tender measures were followed during the allocation of multimillion tenders to 90 companies. He did not want to delve into the merits of the allegations
“The information we received is that an official in the health department made several calls to individuals to contact him to qualify to supply personal protective equipment to the health department,” Khawe said.
He further said "It was a tender bonanza”.
Khawe said the Gauteng ANC had asked Premier David Makhura to give details of tender irregularities to the taxpayers and to urge the Special Investigative Unit (SIU) to speed up their probe and to bring the culprits to book within four weeks.
Makhura is expected to name an acting health MEC later on Thursday.
IOL and Political Bureau