S.Africa’s Zuma Asks That Gupta Probe Be Left to New Graft OmbudAmogelang Mbatha
South African President Jacob Zuma asked that the probe into the alleged improper involvement of the Gupta family in government affairs be defered to the incoming graft ombudsman, whose appointment he officially confirmed Thursday.
Zuma lawyers argued the president had not had enough time to prepare answers with legal advice, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s office said in an e-mailed statement Thursday after she met with him.
The probe relates to the dismissal and appointment of cabinet ministers and board members and directors of state-owned companies and possibly corrupt influence in the awarding of state contracts and licenses to companies linked to the family, according to the statement.
Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas said in March that the Guptas, who are in business with Zuma’s son, offered him the post of finance minister. The controversy around the family prompted the nation’s largest banks to close accounts belonging to companies owned by the Guptas. Both Zuma and the Guptas deny wrongdoing.
The meeting was “cordial” and it was agreed that Zuma will be given a set of questions to answer through an affidavit, according to the statement.
Incoming Public Protector Busisiwe Mkwhebane said the probe can’t be a priority, the state broadcaster reported on its Twitter account, citing an exclusive interview with her. Madonsela’s seven-year term ends on Oct. 15.