Zuma con­demns state cap­ture re­port

Lesotho Times - - Business - Bereng Mpaki

BA­SIC busi­ness man­age­ment skills are an in­te­gral el­e­ment to the de­vel­op­ment of sus­tain­able and thriv­ing Ba­sotho-owned CAPE TOWN — South African Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma said on Wed­nes­day an anti-cor­rup­tion watch­dog had no right to call for a ju­di­cial in­quiry into al­leged in­flu­ence-ped­dling in his gov­ern­ment, de­scrib­ing its re­port as un­fair.

The re­port by the Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor watch­dog, re­leased on Nov. 2, fo­cused on al­le­ga­tions that busi­ness­man brothers Ajay, Atul and Ra­jesh Gupta had in­flu­enced the ap­point­ment of min­is­ters.

While stop­ping short of con­clu­sive find­ings, it has in­creased pres­sure on Zuma by calling for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into whether he, some cabi­net mem­bers and some state com­pa­nies acted im­prop­erly. Wounded by the lat­est in a se­ries of scan­dals, Zuma, who de­nies wrong­do­ing, hit back in a speech to par­lia­ment.

“No one, no mat­ter what po­si­tion they hold, can in­struct the pres­i­dent to es­tab­lish a com­mis­sion and even tell the process through which it must go... so that’s a prob­lem,” he said.

“This re­port has been dealt with in a very funny way. It af­fected me and many (oth­ers). No fair­ness at all.”

The af­fair has rat­tled fi­nan­cial mar­kets in Africa’s most in­dus­tri­al­ized econ­omy, which risks credit rat­ing down­grades later this year, and spurred ef­forts by the op­po­si­tion to un­seat the pres­i­dent.

Zuma said South Africa has done enough to boost growth and avoid a down­grade to junk sta­tus, which would raise bor­row­ing costs and de­ter in­vest­ment. Growth is ex­pect to be less than 1 per­cent in 2016.

“I be­lieve we have in­deed done a lot work­ing to­gether to cre­ate fa­vor­able con­di­tions for eco­nomic growth and to stave off any down­grade,” he said.

Zuma said the ac­tions of the na­tion’s banks in cut­ting off busi­ness with the wealthy Gupta fam­ily, whose al­leged in­flu­ence over him lay at the heart of the watch­dog’s re­port, were “sus­pi­cious” and needed to be in­ves­ti­gated.

The Gupta fam­ily de­nies seek­ing in­flu­ence from Zuma.

“Here there was an ac­tion by a num­ber of banks at the same time. It sug­gests that there is some­thing un­to­ward here. And as gov­ern­ment, we wanted to con­struc­tively in­ter­act with the banks,” Zuma said.

Sev­eral South African com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing all four ma­jor banks, cut links in April with com­pa­nies as­so­ci­ated with the Gup­tas.

— Reuters

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