IFP in Gauteng calls for probe into R125m PPE contract reportedly scored by Diko’s husband

President Cyril Ramaphosa's spokeperson, Khusela Diko, has been nominated for a Feather Award | Image: Twitter

The party says it unreservedly condemns the alleged malicious conflict of interest which sees relatives of public officials benefiting from a global pandemic.

The IFP in Gauteng has called on Premier David Makhura to investigate the tender reportedly awarded to Madzikane II Thandisizwe Diko, the husband of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Khusela Diko.

The party’s provincial chairperson, Bonginkosi Dhlamini said: “The IFP condemns the blatant conflict of interest” in the awarding of the tender.

The calls by the party come after a Sunday Independent report about a week ago about Diko’s company, Royal Bhaca Projects, being awarded contracts amounting to R125 million by the Gauteng Department of Health soon after Ramaphosa in March announced the national lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19.

The publication reported on Sunday about the close relationship between Diko’s wife, presidency spokesperson, and the wife of Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku, Loyiso Lugayeni-Masuku.

In a statement on Sunday, Masuku sought to set the record straight about the PPE procurement tender, saying media reports implying that he was involved in the procurement processes “are false and without any foundation”.

Masuku pointed out that he had requested Makhura to initiate a forensic audit into the procurement of PPE and that the premier subsequently asked the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to probe the matter, adding that the latter’s investigation commenced in May.

“As the originator of the process, I wholly support the SIU’s investigation,” Musuku said, adding that if corruption is uncovered, action will be taken against those implicated or found guilty.

“Those found guilty of fraud and, or the misappropriation of funds at the department will face the full might of the law,” Masuku said.

Both Diko and his wife have denied allegations of corruption, the latter recently saying in a statement that she had been informed of “two commitment letters” but neither of these were “implemented”.

Diko previously told the Sunday Independent that “the department cancelled the commitment letter at my request after realising that there could be a perception of a potential conflict of interest as you now allege”.

The IFP’s Dhlamini said it was “alarming” that Royal Bhaca Projects allegedly inflated the cost of the PPE “to amounts that were significantly well above the regulated prices for PPE”.

“This regulated price was established to prevent opportunistic companies like Diko’s from shamelessly exploiting this global catastrophe for personal gain.

“The IFP unreservedly condemns this malicious conflict of interest which sees relatives of public officials benefiting from a global pandemic. The IFP has always been a loud voice of opposition against the mismanagement of government funds, tenderpreneurship, cadre deployment in municipalities, corruption as well as the withering of democracy under the burgeoning hegemony of the ANC.

“Hence, we call on the Gauteng Premier, David Makhura, to conduct a thorough investigation into the tender process which resulted in Diko making the most of the Gauteng Health Department’s need for PPE. No stone must be left unturned in this probe and the Health MEC, Bandile Masuku, under whose watch this happened, must play an active role in ensuring that the beneficiary of this tender is brought to book. We must never allow people with shallow consciences to benefit from what can only be described as the worst pandemic of our lifetime,” Dhlamini said.

The EFF have called for Khusela Diko’s dismissal, while the DA has also called for the contract to be investigated.

Makhura is expected to brief the media this week on investigations that have been completed by SIU, including those that are underway.

(Compiled by Makhosandile Zulu)

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