It was all just an error of judgment: Diko

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It was all just an error of judgment: Diko

She accepts husband’s firm should have read the room – what she calls an ‘environment of mistrust and suspicion’

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Khusela Diko said she regretted that her husband's company applied for a PPE tender with the Gauteng health department.
BAD CALL Khusela Diko said she regretted that her husband's company applied for a PPE tender with the Gauteng health department.
Image: Twitter/Khusela Diko

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko on Wednesday said she “regretted” her husband’s company seeking to do business with the Gauteng health department.

In a joint statement with her husband King Thandisizwe Diko, she acknowledged there was public anger over reports that Madzikane’s company Royal Bhaca Projects was awarded R125m in tenders for personal protective equipment (PPE).

The couple maintained they had not earned a cent from allegedly questionable PPE tenders from the department.

“Over the past week, we have found ourselves at the centre of a media and public storm over a Gauteng health department PPE supply contract that was awarded to Royal Bhaca Projects and subsequently cancelled,” she said.

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. 

“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 Dikos are friends with Gauteng health MEC Bandile Masuku and his wife Loyiso, a member of the mayoral committee in the City of Joburg.

Masuku has been placed in a tight corner by the revelations, with mounting calls by ANC alliance partners in Gauteng for him to step aside from his post as Diko did from her duties as Ramaphosa’s spokesperson. 

His fate was up for discussion in a meeting of the ANC provincial executive committee on Wednesday.

In their statement, the Dikos, however, maintained their innocence.

Diko said she understood that allegations of state capture played into the anger. She had voluntarily stepped down as Ramaphosa’s spokesperson pending an investigation into the claims.

She said she regretted the company even applied for the tender in the first place.

“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,” said the statement.

“We have attempted to rectify this matter by seeking to cancel the contract, and we deeply regret the error of judgment 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.”

We deeply regret the error of judgment that led Royal Bhaca to seek to do business with this department in the first place.

The two acknowledged the longstanding relationship they had with the Masuku family, which they said at some point led to them registering businesses together. But those businesses never traded, they said.

Thandisizwe Diko further confirmed social media posts showing his involvement in a number of boards in government entities, but he defended his track record and qualifications.

I fully reject the assertion that these appointments, which I earned after due process, were the result of unwarranted political influence,” he said.

However, in the interests of ethical leadership and accountability and following the example set by iNdlovukazi Khusela Diko, I will resign as an independent audit committee member of the Joburg Market as this appointment itself has now become mired in controversy.

“This is to save the market and the city from any further undue public scrutiny.”