R125m Covid-19 PPE tender saga deliberation to be announce

As the ANC’s leadership in Gauteng prepare to announce the outcome of their deliberations over the Covid-19 PPE scandal on Thursday, it remains to be seen if any tough action will be instituted against those found wanting amid efforts by the national government to clamp down on corruption and maladministration.

The PEC led by Gauteng chairperson and Premier David Makhura met behind closed doors on Wednesday night in a bid to discuss recent revelations that a handful of its members were implicated in the saga involving a tender to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to the provincial government.

However, a few hours before the meeting, PEC member and President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko, alongside her husband – AmaBhaca King Madzikane II Thandisizwe – refuted claims that they “illegally” charged the Gauteng government R125million to supply it with personal protective equipment to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

Their reaction followed widespread reports, initially by the Sunday Independent, linking them to the irregular tender, allegedly allocated to them due to their close ties with Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku, who is also a family friend.

As a result of the reports, Diko asked Ramaphosa this week for leave of absence. This was granted.

She and her husband on Wednesday both penned a strongly worded statement denying all allegations against them including claims of the husband receiving special favours to serve on the board of government entities such as the Internal Auditing Service of the Joburg Market board under the City of Joburg.

The king also announced his resignation from the board of the Joburg Market.

In their statement, the couple were adamant, saying: “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.

“We 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,” they said.

They were adamant that the deal was cancelled ahead of payment of any funds to Royal Bhaca Projects.

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

The couple also reiterated their ties with Masuku and his wife Loyiso – an ANC councillor and member of the mayoral committee in the City of Joburg under mayor Geoff Makhubo.

“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, among others.

“However, those plans never materialized. Residual evidence of entities that were registered for such a purpose shows that no trade was ever undertaken through those companies.”

The king refuted allegations made by the EFF in the City of Joburg and Young Communist League of SA that councillor Masuku propelled him to serve on the Joburg Market board.

He said: “I have a Master’s degree in development communication from the University of Pretoria and a certificate in municipal finance from Wits University. I have more than 19 years of work experience, of which over 10 have been in senior management at different institutions including national government.”

Those considerations were also the reasons he applied to be a member of the Board of City of Joburg entities as he had hoped those skills “could assist me” in delivering a more developmental approach to indigenous leadership.

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