President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko has taken a leave of absence and will temporarily relinquish her roles in the 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,” read a statement announcing her “special leave”.
The statement — which was posted on her verified official Facebook page — confirmed that Diko had formally made the request for leave to minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu.
It comes after claims in the Sunday Independent last weekend that Diko’s husband, King Madzikane Thandisizwe Diko II, scored R125m in state tenders for personal protective equipment.
On July 23, in the wake of the report, Diko denied the claims.
“There was no tender bonanza. I am informed that the two commitment letters in question were not implemented. No public funds were disbursed to Royal Bhaca for services rendered either wholly or in part,” she said in a statement posted on her Facebook page.
“There is no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of myself, my husband or Royal Bhaca.”
On Monday, 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.”
The presidency confirmed the situation in its own statement on Monday evening:
“The Minister in The Presidency [Mthembu] , who is her immediate supervisor, as well as the President of the Republic, have accepted her request for leave of absence whilst the allegations are being investigated,” the statement read.
Attempts to contact Diko for comment were unsuccessful.
Tyrone Seale had been appointed to act as Ramaphosa’s spokesperson pending the finalisation of the investigation.