Image via Twitter: Khusela Diko
Khusela Diko and husband King Madzikane II Diko said the decision to get into business with the health department was an error of judgement.
Image via Twitter: Khusela Diko
Spokesperson to President Cyril Ramaphosa Khusela Diko and her husband King Maszikane II Diko have aired their views in an open letter following allegations that they were awarded a Gauteng Health Department PPE tender and thus benefitted from millions in COVID-19 relief funds.
Released on Wednesday 29 July, the statement detailed how Diko and Maszikane found themselves at the centre of a media and public storm after the, subsequently cancelled tender, was allegedly awarded to Royal Bhaca Projects, a company in which Maszikane is the director.
“Despite the absence of any illegality and confirmation that no public funds were ever paid to Royal Bhaca Projects – details of which will be further ventilated by the investigations – the matter continues to draw outrage from across society,” the statement read.
Diko and Maszikane said they acknowledge, with humility, the anger and outrage expressed by South Africans.
“Corruption has undermined the capacity of the State to deliver essential services and has stolen from the poor. It is, therefore, vital that the media and the public remain diligent in the fight against corruption, which we wholly support,” the statement read.
“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,” it added.
Diko and Maszikane said they have attempted to rectify the matter by seeking to cancel the contract.
“We deeply regret the error of judgement that led Royal Bhaca to seek to do business with this Department in the first place,” it added.
As widely reported by the media, Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku has also been highly implicated in the tender scandal. So much so, that the EFF in Gauteng has called for his immediate removal. Gauteng Premier David Makhura has also been asked to intervene.
According to the statement, 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,” it said.
“Over the years, prior to any of us acceding to public office and positions, some members of our families contemplated several business partnerships due to our 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[s] that no trade was ever undertaken through those companies,” it added.
Diko and Maszikane reiterated and emphasised that they never discussed the extension of family ties to benefits that would accrue from public sector procurement.
Detailing appointments, Maszikane said that, until recently, he was the Chief Executive Officer of Alfred Nzo Development Agency (ANDA), an entity of the Alfred Nzo District Municipality in the Eastern Cape.
“Prior to that, I served on the Board as Deputy Chairperson. I have also served as Board member of Ingwe TVET College amongst other positions I have held. I have a Master’s degree in Development Communication from the University of Pretoria and a Certificate in Municipal Finance from Wits University,” he said.
Maszikane said he has 19 years of work experience and ten years in senior management at different institutions including national government.
“I believe that this experience I have developed as well as the knowledge and skills I have accumulated were considered valuable in my appointment to the Board of Sentech. Sentech is mandated to distribute communications infrastructure to provide access to communication services in all areas, including the furthest and most remote places in South Africa. These are the communities that I serve,” he said.
Similarly, CATHSSETA facilitates skills development in culture, arts, tourism and sports – areas which he said should be the bedrock of development in South Africa’s impoverished areas.
“I adhered to the application processes for consideration for appointment to these boards, and I believe I have the requisite skills to provide valuable counsel and guidance. The above considerations were also the reasons I applied to be a member of the Board of City of Joburg entities, specifically the Joburg Market, as I had the hope that those skills could assist me in delivering a more developmental approach to indigenous leadership. It has always been my desire to represent and contribute the perspective of rural communities to the organisations I have had the privilege of serving,” he said.
“I fully reject the assertion that these appointments, which I earned after due process, were the result of unwarranted political influence,” he added.
Maszikane said he would resign as an Independent Audit Committee member of the Joburg Market as the appointment has become mired in controversy due to the tender scandal.
Maszikane, besides clearing the air regarding tender irregularities, also confirmed that he does 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,” he said.
“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. I am firmly focused on successfully leading amaBhaca and rewarding their trust in my leadership,” he added.