- Opposition MPs questioned President Cyril Ramaphosa's commitment to fighting corruption.
- They wanted to know why he didn't act against his spokesperson Khusela Diko.
- Deputy minister in the Presidency Thembi Sewiya insisted that the president takes corruption seriously.
President Cyril Ramaphosa came under fire for corruption allegedly taking place "under his nose" as opposition MPs questioned why he waited for his spokesperson Khusela Diko to take personal leave pending investigations into allegations involving her and her husband and tender irregularities in the Gauteng health department.
In Wednesday's virtual sitting of the National Assembly, MPs had the opportunity to make statements or ask questions on each budget vote.
Speaking on the presidency's budget vote, DA interim leader John Steenhuisen said: "Only a man out of touch with reality could sprout as many platitudes as contained in the president's latest newsletter."
"That while his government holds its boot on the neck of the economy and education system of the country and while daily evidence mount of ANC Covid-corruption including under his very nose in the presidency."
In his weekly newsletter, released on Monday, Ramaphosa wrote that while plans were being put in place to stem the damage from the Covid-19 pandemic, the economic recovery was going to be long and hard.
From The Desk of the President - Monday, 27 July 2020 - https://t.co/QK5w30yQhm As several parts of our country experience a surge in coronavirus infections, we are also confronted with the economic damage of this pandemic. pic.twitter.com/gWXdMdK1ir— Presidency | South Africa ???? (@PresidencyZA) July 27, 2020
Steenhuisen said Ramaphosa asked South Africans to make big sacrifices.
"And yet they are repaid with water cannons and stun grenades."
"Without strong, decisive action against corruption, only then will we able to take the latest word salad from the president seriously."
ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe said Ramaphosa vowed to crack down on corruption and promised severe consequences for the perpetrators.
"Why has the president not pronounced himself publicly on serious allegations that his spokesperson Khusela Diko and Gauteng Health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku, have acted improperly and corruptly in the awarding of a personal protective equipment contract of R125 million to a company linked to Ms Diko's husband?" Meshoe asked.
"And what are these very severe consequences the president spoke about because we have never seen such consequences when looting have taken place?"
NFP MP Munzoor Shaik Emam said there was a lot of speculation in the media on Diko and the public's wondering why the presidency didn't act timeously against her.
"Why did he have to wait for her to take leave of absence and not suspend her; leading by example?" he asked.
EFF MP Natasha Ntlangwini also asked for clarity on Diko. "If she did not ask for leave, were you not going to suspend her for the corruption of PPE and procurement? And is she seconded to be a [deputy director-general] of GCIS?"
Deputy minister in the presidency Thembi Siweya, said Ramaphosa addressed the nation on corruption and "the stance of government that we do not promote corruption".
"He also indicated that the SIU would be dealing with matters related to Covid and corruption," she said. "And we have confidence that the SIU would deal with those issues and bring a report…"
She confirmed that Diko had been seconded to the GCIS as a deputy director-general, but when she took leave, it was as the presidential spokesperson and at GCIS.
"Let me also reiterate that it is incorrect or not true that the presidency is not taking action on corruption."
She said the necessary support was given to the justice cluster to perform its duties.
The adjusted budget cut the SIU's funding with R10 million for the current financial year.