Amid tender irregularity claims, president spokesperson Diko on leave of absence

This comes pending investigations into allegations that Khusela Diko and her husband were involved in tender irregularities in the Gauteng department of Health

Khusela Diko / Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - Minisiter in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu has announced the president's spokesperson Khusela Diko has requested and been granted a leave of absence.

This comes pending investigations into allegations that Diko and her husband were involved in tender irregularities in the Gauteng Department of Health.

Last week, a local newspaper reported how a R124 million tender was awarded to Royal Bhaca Projects – owned by Amabaca King Madzikazi II Thandisizwe, who is the husband of Diko.

The Presidency has appointed Tyrone Seale to act in the position of spokesperson to the President while Diko is on leave.

Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu said: "Ms Khusela Diko, the spokesperson of the president, has requested leave of absence of office. It was granted by the president and minister in the presidency."

Diko said she was taking a leave of absence so that the work of the Presidency would not be undermined by the allegations against her and her husband, especially as the country battles COVID-19.

In a statement, Diko said she would relinquish her roles in government, pending the outcome of investigations into the awarding of two contracts to Royal Bhaca Projects. Diko and her husband insist these tenders were subsequently cancelled.

The news comes as a high-level Gauteng provincial meeting got under way on Monday evening to discuss corruption allegations involving Health MEC Bandile Masuku and his wife.

African National Congress (ANC) Gauteng secretary Jacob Khawe met with Premier David Makhura and all those involved in the allegations.

The party said the gathering would allow its members who were implicated in the alleged procurement of a massive PPE tender contract to give their sides of the story.

Masuku and his wife, Loyiso Lugayeni-Masuku, have been linked to the suspicious R125 million tender.

The MEC issued a statement on Monday. He denied and distanced himself from the allegations as mentioned in a _Sunday Independent _article.

The Masukus are accused of being instrumental in awarding the R124 million contract to Royala Bhaca Projects, which is connected to the husband of Diko.

The ANC in Gauteng said it also wanted to get to the bottom of the allegations of wrongdoing within the Health Department.

The party’s spokesperson Bones Modise said the meeting would determine what actions would be taken once all the relevant information was gathered.

“We’ll then prepare a view that we’ll share with the provincial office.”

Masuku and Diko are both provincial executive members of the ANC in Gauteng.

Meanwhile, there are calls to President Ramaphosa to include the alleged corruption as part of the Special Investigating Unit proclamation.