The African National Congress (ANC) in Gauteng has resolved that the province’s Health MEC, Dr Bandile Masuku, must take leave of absence until investigations into the personal protective equipment (PPE) procurement scandal are finalised.
At a press conference on Thursday, Gauteng ANC provincial secretary Jacob Khawe said Masuku and Khusela Diko, who are both provincial executive committee (PEC) members, will also subject themselves to the ANC’s provincial integrity committee (PIC).
It is anticipated that this process would take two to four weeks, Khawe said. Gauteng PEC also requested the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to expedite its investigations into the scandal within the same period.
Diko is also President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesperson. She took special leave of absence from this position earlier this week. Khawe said Loyiso Masuku, who is Dr Masuku’s wife and MMC for shared services in the City of Johannesburg, will also take leave of absence and face the PIC.
“In discussing this, we are not undermining the law of natural justice. We are not finding anybody guilty. We just believe that there must be a process that demonstrates respect to the concerns raised across society, but in particular, the ANC itself,” Khawe emphasised.
R125 million PPE contract
The Gauteng Health Department has been mired in controversy over the scandal, prompting the SIU to probe contracts and tenders worth a reported R2.2 billion.
This includes a R125 million contract awarded to King Madzikane II Diko of amaBhaca. Diko, who is Khusela Diko’s husband, said he requested a cancellation of the contract following conflict of interest concerns raised by Khusela.
In a statement on Wednesday, he maintained that there was “no corruption in the bidding and subsequent awarding” of the contract to Royal Bhaca Projects, which he said did not receive any money from the Gauteng provincial government.
The couple confirmed being close to the Masukus, but insisted that their ties are based on “mutual respect and values that we uphold.” Diko said he will resign as an Independent Audit Committee member of the Joburg Market following concerns that Loyiso Masuku could have influenced his appointment.
News24 reported on Thursday that Loyiso Masuku and Madzikane Diko are also directors of a company called Cytozone, which was established in 2012. Loyiso said the company “never took off” and is currently undergoing de-registration.
The Dikos also confirmed that the two families “contemplated several business partnerships” but “no trade was ever undertaken through those companies.”
“In the current atmosphere, we accept that such a history between our families will raise suspicion and concern. We reiterate and emphasise that at no point did we discuss the extension of our family ties to benefits that will accrue from public sector procurement,” they said.