Spokesperson to President Cyril Ramaphosa, Khusela Diko, and her husband, King Madzikane II Diko, have finally broken their silence on the R125 million Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) supply contract that was awarded to Madzikane’s company, Royal Bhaca Projects, by the Gauteng Health Department.
In a joint statement on Wednesday, the couple said the contract had been cancelled despite the “absence of any illegality and confirmation that no public funds were ever paid” to the company.
Khusela has further taken leave of absence from all official roles in government, pending investigations into alleged tender irregularities.
“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,” said The Presidency in a statement on Tuesday.
The couple expressed their understanding of the outrage from South Africans, saying the Zondo commission had shown there was a correlation between political office and influence, and private enterprise that unlawfully benefits from state coffers, though this is not what happened in the procurement of the contract.
“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. 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,” reads their statement.
Madzikane further vowed to follow the example set by his wife and resign as an Independent Audit Committee member of the Joburg Market due to the controversy around his appointment.
“The question has been raised why I have pursued private business when I receive an allowance from the state. This is a misconception which I must correct. I do not receive any allowance from the state. That is why I have endeavoured to attain entrepreneurial experience and engage in business enterprises that will benefit my family and the community I serve, which remains largely poor and socially and economically marginalised.
“I deeply regret that these efforts to earn an honest living and improve the wellbeing of my people are now mired in controversy, having not achieved its core objective.”
The EFF has since called on the Presidency to ask Diko to resign as Ramaphosa’s spokesperson.
“A leave of absence is not enough, Khusela Diko must resign as the spokesperson in the Presidency of South Africa. It is the only way that the nation can be reassured that Ramaphosa’s regime is one that is not committed to corruption and the integrity of the office she currently represents can be protected.”
(Compiled by Vhahangwele Nemakonde)