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South Africa’s Zuma Stops Release of Corruption Report

FILE - South African President Jacob Zuma answers questions in parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, March 17, 2016.

South African President Jacob Zuma is leaving no stone unturned to stop the release of a report that implicates him in alleged corruption.

It is the latest chapter in a series of corruption scandals in the past year that have eroded support for Zuma and his party, the African National Congress.

Two weeks ago, Zuma halted the release of a report from South Africa’s former anti-corruption chief, Thuli Madonsela. Zuma intercepted the report October 13, a day before it was to be released.

At the time, Zuma said he acted so the report would present his side of the story.

Former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela addresses journalists in Johannesburg, South Africa, June 7, 2016. Madonsela's term expired on Oct. 15, 2016.
Former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela addresses journalists in Johannesburg, South Africa, June 7, 2016. Madonsela's term expired on Oct. 15, 2016.

“I interdicted it because she (Madonsela) was going to issue a report, having not talked to me, or asked me questions,” he said.

In his latest affidavit to the courts, Zuma questions why he is portrayed in one of the affidavits as an implicated person instead of as a subject of investigation.

He also argues that Madonsela, the former Public Protector who produced the report, made him believe he would be given an opportunity to respond to the allegations, but that did not happen.

Gupta link

In its current form, the report is likely to prove embarrassing to the South African president. It is said to contain allegations linking Zuma to the powerful Gupta family and showing the Guptas’ huge influence inside the Zuma administration.

The Guptas are a family of Indian-born businessmen who moved to South Africa in the 1990s. The Guptas oversee a sprawling business empire in South Africa that includes interests in mining, energy, technology and media.

According to local media, who were leaked elements of the report, Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas told investigators he was offered millions of dollars by the Guptas to take over former Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene’s position and promote the family’s business interests.

Former ANC Member of Parliament Vytjie Mentor has also said she was promised a Cabinet post by the Gupta family and that is also part of the report.

“The claims about the Guptas have also attached to them claims regarding their proximity to the president and the president’s son.”

It is now up to the courts to decide if the report will be released. If released, it could be so damaging that Zuma could have no option but to step down.

But not releasing the report is causing controversy within Zuma’s party. Mentor is one of party members concerned.

“If a president for instance is directly or indirectly implicated, l am sure the president can take leave,” she said.

The court is set to hear Zuma’s application Tuesday. Opposition parties have vowed to use every legal avenue to make sure the report is released.