Now ANC is synonymous with corruption, says analyst

The Gauteng Covid-19 tender scandal is the "arms deal of the 21st century" for the ANC, proving the governing party is synonymous with corruption, says an expert. Political analyst Dr Somadoda Fikeni said the saga could not have come at a worse time for the ANC and President Cyril Ramaphosa. The scandal erupted when the country was vulnerable because of the double crises of Covid-19 and the collapsing economy. The latest saga developed after a Sunday newspaper reported last week that Royal Bhaca Projects, owned by Prince Thandisizwe Diko, the husband of presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko, was awarded two contracts...
The Gauteng Covid-19 tender scandal is the "arms deal of the 21st century" for the ANC, proving the governing party is synonymous with corruption, says an expert.

Political analyst Dr Somadoda Fikeni said the saga could not have come at a worse time for the ANC and President Cyril Ramaphosa. The scandal erupted when the country was vulnerable because of the double crises of Covid-19 and the collapsing economy.

The latest saga developed after a Sunday newspaper reported last week that Royal Bhaca Projects, owned by Prince Thandisizwe Diko, the husband of presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko, was awarded two contracts worth R125 million to supply personal protection equipment (PPE) to the Gauteng department of health.

The traditional leader this week confirmed he got the deal and supplied the material, but was not paid. He said his wife asked him to pull out of the deal, but he went ahead. Later, when she insisted, he asked the department to cancel the deal and it was scrapped.

Khusela Diko and Gauteng MEC for health Dr Bandile Masuku have both been placed on leave of absence. Masuku's wife, Loyiso, who is Joburg member of the mayoral committee for corporate services, would also be put on suspension. The trio are expected to be investigated by the provincial integrity committee.

Also read: Diko tender scandal 'knocks' Cyril's image

However, there have been reports of other well-connected ANC family members scoring contracts relating to the Covid emergency funding mechanism. They included Ramaphosa's son, Andile, who won a tender to sanitise taxis. The daughter of former minister Nomvula Mokonyane also won a tender from the Gauteng administration to supply PPE, via her company established less than a year ago.

Finally, there were reports yesterday that two sons of ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule had been given similar Covid-related contracts by the Free State government. Magashule is a former Free State premier.

The involvement of Khusela Diko in the Gauteng PPE deal has raised questions about the president's commitment to fight graft, as promised when he assumed office. Diko herself is not the accused, but she is a co-owner of her husband's property, although he has said she and Masuku had nothing to do with his business.

But questions lingered as to why the prince bid for the tender in the first place when he knew his wife was a senior government official and member of the Gauteng ANC provincial executive committee. Also the fact that an Eastern Cape company bid for and won a contract in Gauteng raised eyebrows as Gauteng-based firms could have done the job.

Fikeni said it got more complicated with Ramaphosa being ANC president and Diko formerly ANC national spokesperson prior to her redeployment to the presidency.

Luthuli House could not be trusted to handle the matter honestly with some graft suspects deployed at the party headquarters, which had also advocated for the VBS Mutual Bank looting accused to be reinstated in Limpopo. Fikeni, who is highly respected within the ANC-led tripartite alliance, said the mention of the Presidency in the matter had elevated it to national scale.

"There is no doubt this saga has severely damaged the ANC image. It will make ANC now synonymous with corruption."

Trade union federation Cosatu called for an immediate clampdown on fraud in the tender processes for PPE. Cosatu's parliamentary coordinator Matthew Parks said: "We welcome the decision of parliament's finance committees to probe these very serious allegations of corruption in PPE procurement initiatives and call for a tightening of PPE procurement specifications."

ericn@citizen.co.za

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