S Africa court or­ders Zuma graft re­port to be re­leased

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

A po­ten­tially ex­plo­sive re­port into cor­rup­tion al­le­ga­tions against Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma must be re­leased, a South African court ruled, after his lawyers dropped a bid to block its pub­li­ca­tion. The court’s or­der came as thou­sands of peo­ple took to the streets of the ad­min­is­tra­tive cap­i­tal Pre­to­ria to de­mand that Zuma, who has been en­gulfed in sev­eral graft scan­dals, re­signs.

The re­port by the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor, the coun­try’s most se­nior watch­dog, probed ac­cu­sa­tions that Zuma al­lowed a wealthy In­dian fam­ily un­due po­lit­i­cal sway, in­clud­ing let­ting them choose some cab­i­net min­is­ters. “The Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor is or­dered to pub­lish the re­port forth­with and by no later than 17:00 hours (1500 GMT),” judge Dun­stan Mlambo told the High Court in Pre­to­ria.

For­mer pub­lic pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela con­cluded her re­port into the in­flu­ence of the Gupta fam­ily last month, shortly be­fore the ex­piry of her seven-year term. It was due to be re­leased on Oc­to­ber 14 — un­til Zuma moved to block it. “To­day is a his­toric day... Ja­cob Zuma must be held ac­count­able,” Mmusi Maimane, leader of the main op­po­si­tion Demo­cratic Al­liance party, told re­porters, hail­ing the court or­der as “a turn­ing point in South Africa”. The pres­i­dent, 74, has sur­vived a string of dam­ag­ing con­tro­ver­sies, but faces in­creas­ing crit­i­cism as the econ­omy stalls and after the rul­ing ANC party suf­fered un­prece­dented losses in lo­cal polls.

Protest marches

Some fac­tions of the ANC, for­mer an­ti­a­partheid ac­tivists and busi­ness lead­ers have all re­cently called for Zuma to stand down be­fore his term ends in 2019. Yes­ter­day, op­po­si­tion party sup­port­ers, unions and civil groups marched through Pre­to­ria to protest against his pres­i­dency. “I spent the whole night here,” Do­minic Khu­lube, 30, an un­em­ployed man from Tem­bisa, a town­ship out­side Johannesburg, told AFP after a vigil by the left­ist Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers (EFF) party. “Zuma must step down and the Gup­tas must leave the coun­try.”

The marches were orig­i­nally planned to show sup­port for Fi­nance Min­is­ter Pravin Gord­han, who had been due in court Wed­nes­day on sep­a­rate graft charges that many an­a­lysts see as an at­tempt by Zuma loy­al­ists to oust him. But pros­e­cu­tors dropped the charges on Mon­day in the lat­est twist to a power strug­gle that has ex­posed deep ten­sions in the ANC, the party that Nel­son Man­dela led in the fight against apartheid and which has held power since white-mi­nor­ity rule ended in 1994. The Gupta fam­ily-brothers Ajay, Atul and Ra­jesh-built an em­pire in min­ing, trans­porta­tion, tech­nol­ogy and me­dia after ar­riv­ing in South Africa from In­dia in the early 1990s. One of Zuma’s sons, Duduzane, is their busi­ness part­ner.

Court re­buke

Deputy fi­nance min­is­ter Mce­bisi Jonas early this year ac­cused the fam­ily of of­fer­ing him the job of fi­nance min­is­ter, some­thing he said he re­jected. Zuma last month said he was not given enough time to re­spond to the watch­dog’s ques­tions. In 2014, the pub­lic pro­tec­tor dealt a ma­jor blow to the pres­i­dent in a re­port that found he had “un­duly ben­e­fited” from the re­fur­bish­ment of his Nkandla ru­ral home. Zuma fought the case un­til be­ing be­rated by the Con­sti­tu­tional Court and or­dered to pay back pub­lic money spent on up­grades in­clud­ing a chicken coop and a swim­ming pool. Zuma is also fight­ing a court or­der that could re­in­state al­most 800 cor­rup­tion charges against him. The 783 charges re­late to al­leged cor­rup­tion, rack­e­teer­ing, fraud and money laun­der­ing over a multi-bil­lion dol­lar arms deal in the 1990s. — AFP

— AP

PRE­TO­RIA: Eco­nomic Free­dom Fight­ers sup­port­ers march in the down­town hub.

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