Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: GCIS
Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: GCIS

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesperson has taken leave of absence over allegations about her husband’s involvement in a Covid-19 tender in Gauteng.

Khusela Diko has temporarily relinquished her roles in government pending the outcome of an investigation into the awarding of two contracts, which she said were subsequently cancelled, for the supply of personal protective equipment to Royal Bhaca Projects, a company in which her husband is a director.

The Sunday Independent said the company was awarded contracts worth R125m by the provincial health department days after Ramaphosa announced that the country was entering a national lockdown in March. It said that Royal Bhaca Projects charged inflated prices for the personal protective equipment.

In response to the report, Diko’s husband, Madzikane II Thandisizwe Diko, reportedly said Royal Bhaca never received any payment from the department and the contract was cancelled.  

Minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu, who along with the president is Khusela Diko’s direct line manager, said her request for leave of absence had been accepted. The presidency has appointed Tyrone Seale to act in the position of spokesperson to Ramaphosa while Diko is on leave.

Diko said she had requested the leave of absence.

“I wish to thank the presidency for timeously acceding to my request. It is of the utmost importance that the work of the presidency and government as a whole is not undermined or adversely affected by these allegations, especially at this time when our nation’s focus is on battling the Covid-19 pandemic,” she said.

In his address to the nation last week,  Ramaphosa spoke out against corruption related to the coronavirus pandemic and said the Special Investigating Unit would probe any allegations relating to the misuse of relief funds.

The unit only deals with cases proclaimed by the president.

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