No corruption in awarding of R125m PPE contract to Royal Bhaca Projects - Dikos
Durban - Presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko and her husband have cleared the air over assertions that her husband received an allowance from the state and therefore did not need to enter into private business.
In a lengthy joint statement released on Wednesday, the Dikos sought to clarify their involvement in a R125 million PPE tender allegedly linked to Amabhaca King Madzikane II Thandisizwe Diko and longtime family friend, Gauteng Health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku.
On Monday, the Presidency announced that Khusela Diko would be taking a leave of absence in the wake of the allegations.
The Sunday Independent last week reported Diko's husband had been linked to the awarding of tenders to the tune of R125m by the Gauteng Department of Health to supply personal protective equipment (PPE).
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.
The Dikos said that, despite the absence of any illegality and confirmation that no public funds were ever paid to Royal Bhaca Projects, the matter continues to draw outrage from across society.
"We acknowledge with humility the anger and outrage expressed by South Africans. For more than a decade, South Africa has suffered due to state capture. As the evidence presented to the Zondo Commission on State Capture has shown, there is a correlation between political office and influence, and private enterprise that unlawfully benefits from state coffers.
“Although there was no corruption in the bidding and subsequent awarding of the PPE contract to Royal Bhaca Projects, we accept that years of cronyism have created an environment of mistrust and suspicion when individuals, who are close to political office and influence, are seen to be benefiting from the state in ways that may be unethical," the couple said.
"We have attempted to rectify this matter by seeking to cancel the contract, and we deeply regret the error of judgement that led Royal Bhaca to seek to do business with this Department in the first place. We support the measures that government has put in place to investigate and prosecute all instances of the misuse of funds related to the response to Covid-19," the Dikos added.
Gauteng Health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku was also implicated in the alleged awarding of the tenders. The Dikos and Masukus are said to be close family friends.
Friendship with Masuku family
"The ties between the Diko and Masuku families predate the public office positions that are occupied by the respective members of both families. We have never hidden the relationship, as evidenced by various social media posts that have been referenced by the media. These family ties have been based on mutual respect and values that we uphold," the couple said.
They said over the years, prior to any of either family member acceding to public office and positions, some members contemplated several business partnerships due to their strong bonds and aspirations in various endeavours including agriculture and community healthcare amongst others.
"However, those plans never materialised. Residual evidence of entities that were registered for such a purpose show that no trade was ever undertaken through those companies. In the current atmosphere, we accept that such a history between our families will raise suspicion and concern. We reiterate and emphasise that at no point did we discuss the extension of our family ties to benefits that will accrue from public sector procurement," they said.
Diko has also said he will resign as an Independent Audit Committee member of the Joburg Market as this appointment has now become mired in controversy.
Diko was, until recently, chief executive officer of the Alfred Nzo Development Agency and previously served as the board's chairperson. He was also a board member of Ingwe TVET College and served on the Sentech board. He rejected the assertion that these appointments were the result of unwarranted political influence.
“I deeply regret that these efforts to earn an honest living and improve the well-being of my people are now mired in controversy, having not achieved its core objective. I am firmly focused on successfully leading amaBhaca and rewarding their trust in my leadership,” he said.