Home South African President slammed over ’belated’ disciplinary action against spokesperson Khusela Diko

President slammed over ’belated’ disciplinary action against spokesperson Khusela Diko

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“The belated action by President Ramaphosa to institute disciplinary action comes at a time when there is mounting pressure on the ANC ’to walk the talk’ in dealing with corruption.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa. File picture

OPPOSITION parties, academics and political analysts who spoke to Independent Media yesterday have slammed the decision by President Cyril Ramaphosa to institute disciplinary hearings against his spokesperson Khusela Diko as playing to the gallery, and having taken too long to get the process against her under way.

DA spokesperson Siviwe Gwarube said although disciplinary processes had to be gone through, it had been six months with no end to the matter in sight.

“Covid corruption remains one of the biggest scandals under President Cyril Ramaphosa’s administration. The SIU (Special Investigating Unit) long discharged its duties as a law enforcement agency. It is now incumbent of the Presidency to move on this issue with the urgency it deserves. This is not being done because there is a long history and culture of protecting the politically connected within the ANC ranks.

“If President Ramaphosa was serious about corruption as he continues to claim, he would ensure that these damning findings against Ms Diko and others lead to their swift disciplinary and ultimate dismissal,” she said.

Gwarube made the comments after the Office of the Presidency released a statement on Sunday where it announced that the SIU had found that although it had not obtained any evidence of Diko’s involvement in the awarding of two contracts by the Gauteng Department of Health to Royal Bhaca so far, it did, however, find that Diko did not disclose all her financial interests. Based on this, the Presidency decided to institute internal disciplinary hearings against her.

Diko was placed on special leave last year after it emerged that her husband’s company had irregularly received a tender for personal protective equipment (PPE) from the Gauteng Health Department which was headed by family friend Bandile Masuku.

Senior researcher at the Xubera Institute Xolani Dube said perceptions were important in politics and even superseded the reality of the situation. The current perception was that Diko was associated with corruption and this put the Presidency in a bad light.

He gave the example of how former president Thabo Mbeki fired Jacob Zuma as deputy president even though there was no strong case against Zuma at that time. Dube said Mbeki did this because of perceptions the office would have if no action was taken.

He said Diko must do the honourable thing and leave her position as spokesperson for Ramaphosa. Dube, however, said that the ANC had the problem of protecting its own members even when this went against the sentiments of the public. “No one trusts the ANC any more. It can’t be saved and does not want to be saved,” he said.

University of Zululand Professor Sipho Seepe said: “The belated action by President Ramaphosa to institute disciplinary action comes at a time when there is mounting pressure on the ANC ’to walk the talk’ in dealing with corruption.

“The question is why has it taken so long? For one, Diko only stepped aside temporarily after mounting pressure from the public.

“Second, the president has failed to lead in matters that involve his person. No amount of playing to the gallery will remove the stain surrounding his campaign funding. Instead of engaging in public relations exercises, the president must disclose what is contained in the sealed information. Who are the benefactors and beneficiaries of his funding campaign? What is he hiding?”

IFP leader Velenkosini Hlabisa said the party welcomed the action that was taken by the Office of the Presidency against Diko if she did not disclose her financial interests.

He said if Ramaphosa wants to fight corruption, then this was the way. Hlabisa said South Africa will be dealing with Covid-19-related corruption for a long time to come and he said that what happened to the billions of rand lost to corruption needed to come out.

He said South Africa does not even have money to properly buy vaccines.

EFF spokesperson Vuyani Pambo said the government should not waste its resources and should have summarily dismissed Diko.

He was of the view that the whole disciplinary process was a waste of resources.

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