AmaBhaca king says Gauteng PPE tender 'not swayed by political friends'

30 July 2020 - 14:27
By Sthembile Cele
Spokesperson for the presidency and Gauteng ANC executive committee member Khusela Diko will take a leave of absence from her role in government.
Image: Twitter/Khusela Diko Spokesperson for the presidency and Gauteng ANC executive committee member Khusela Diko will take a leave of absence from her role in government.

AmaBhaca King Madzikane II has no regrets about bidding for the tender which has seen three Gauteng officials placed on leave of absence and says the contract was necessary to raise resources for his rural community.

In an interview with the SABC on Thursday afternoon, Diko (King Madzikane II) said he did not want to consider the conflict of interest when he made the bid for the R125m contract with the Gauteng department of health.

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“I had to focus on what the objectives of this business are and the objectives of this business is to make sure that the traditional leadership are able to support their communities. I have a responsibility to support the rural community that I come from,” he said.

“One of those objectives is to make sure that you raise resources so that you can support them. That my wife then is at [the] presidency, I didn’t want to consider that but later on,  yes after she engaged me on it, I decided that OK maybe it is best to pull out of this,” said Diko.

Asked about the nature of the business of Royal Bhaca, which was allegedly awarded the hefty contract, he said it had a number of focus areas including that of “supply and delivery”, which he said was the requirement of the tender. Asked if the company had any history of dealing with medical supplies, Diko said, “Let me ask you a question, who has had experience on Covid?”

Diko and his wife Khusela – spokesperson for President Cyril Ramaphosa – are close friends with Gauteng health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku and his spouse MMC Loyiso Masuku.

The interview with Diko coincided with the ANC in Gauteng announcing that the Masukus and Khusela - a member of the ANC's provincial executive committee - would appear before the party’s integrity commission. The Masukus would join Khusela in taking a leave of absence from their roles in government.

The Gauteng PEC is also calling upon its chairperson and premier David Makhura to “impress upon the SIU”, that it should resolve its investigation into tender irregularities speedily.

The AmaBhaca king also has a business relationship with MMC Masuku by virtue of co-owning a company called Cytozone. Diko said it was the only joint venture they had and added that the company was yet to trade. On Wednesday he said he would resign as a member of the independent audit committee of the Joburg Market.

Diko insisted, however, that the awarding of the tender had followed the proper channels without any intervention from his political friends.

“Let me state that no politician was involved in my acquiring of this contract. Not the MEC, not my wife, not the MEC's wife. Here we are talking about what may be perceived as a conflict of interest. The Masukus didn’t have anything to do with this.”

Asked if, in light of the fallout over the tender, he regretted bidding for the contract, Diko said, “No, personally I don’t.”

Asked if he would continue to pursue contracts in government, he said he would do so cautiously.

“I have just said to you there is a reason it is important for rural leadership to raise resources to serve their community. That is one of the objectives for getting into business, because royal leadership must be able to serve their communities. So I cannot regret therefore to get into business because it is about raising resources ... while one challenges government on recognition and so on. So I will still do it, but where there seems to be a conflict of interest, I will have to reconsider. It is wrong for people to think that royalty must not get into business.”

Gauteng premier David Makhura is set to announce who will act as health MEC, in the absence of Masuku, later on Thursday. The move comes as Covid-19 starts to peak in the densely populated province which has already recorded more than 168,000 infections.