President Cyril Ramaphosa has re-assured Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema that his spokesperson Khusela Diko’s alleged involvement in the PPE contract scandal is receiving attention.
The President was answering oral questions in the National Assembly during a virtual hybrid sitting.
Diko found herself in the middle of the Gauteng PPE scandal, after allegations that the Gauteng Health Department awarded her husband’s company a PPE tender of R125-million.
Malema argued that Diko’s involvement in the PPE controversy is a reflection of how the Presidency is involved in PPE tenders.
Ramaphosa says: “You also touched on the spokesperson of the President who you say was involved in all this. The spokesperson has stepped aside. We are looking into that matter. And we will be dealing with this matter.”
In July, Diko took leave of absence and temporarily relinquished her roles in government.
“This is pending the outcome of investigations into the awarding of two subsequently cancelled contracts for the supply of Personal Protective Equipment to Royal Bhaca Projects; a company in which her husband is a director, ” a statement from the presidency stated.
In her request for a leave of absence, Diko said: “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 impacted by these allegations, especially at this time when our nation’s focus is on battling the COVID-19 pandemic.”
On COVID-19 corruption
Ramaphosa says it is not the responsibility of the President to arrest, prosecute and jail those who have been implicated in allegations of corruption.
He was responding DA leader John Steenhuisen in the National Assembly during his oral reply session.
The President says the there are capable institutions tasked to deal with acts of criminality.
“And I say my comrades, my task as the President of the Republic, is not to go out and investigate this one and that one. It is to set up the institutions that will do their work. The institutions must do their work. And it is when we do so, – that we really have a democracy. One day if you don’t rely on the institutions, you will really have a crazy President who will be running around arresting people, putting them in jail and South Africa does not want that.”
Ramaphosa adds that the looting of COVID-19 funds through Personal Protective Equipment tenders, should be a lesson to decisively act against corruption.
He says many other countries are facing the same situation.
The President says looters take advantage of the pandemic.
“We need to take this moment as a turning point in our fight against corruption. And may I say that you know, I have been scanning quite a number of other experiences in other countries. And I have also taken time to speak to other heads of state and many of them are going through exactly the same challenge that we are growing though. That PPEs gave people with corrupt intent, with fraudulent intent an opportunity just to make a quick buck and over-charge government in many other countries,” he adds.