Zuma to Challenge South Africa Graft Ombudsman’s Report in Court

  • Elements of report are unconstitutional, says ANC leader
  • ANC welcomes establishment of judicial commission of inquiry

South African President Jacob Zuma will probably mount a legal challenge to a report by the graft ombudsman that calls for the establishment of a judicial inquiry into allegations that the Gupta family influenced cabinet appointments and state contracts, the ruling party’s secretary-general said.

In her 355-page report, former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela gave a directive that Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng name the judge who would chair the commission. While the African National Congress welcomes the establishment of the body, Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe said, Madonsela shouldn’t have ordered how it should be established. With past commissions, the president appointed the presiding officer.

“She should recommend that a commission be set up, full stop,” Mantashe, 61, said in an interview Thursday at Bloomberg’s Johannesburg office. “Because she defines how it should be put together, which is unconstitutional, it is being taken on review.”

In her report, Madonsela suggested Zuma and some ministers may have breached the government’s code of ethics in their relationship with the Gupta family, who are Zuma’s friends. It detailed allegations that the Guptas may have influenced the appointment of cabinet members and received special treatment for a coal business linked to the family and Zuma’s son, Duduzane.

That coal business sells fuel to state power company Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. The utility has said it may challenge the report.

Zuma is still studying the report and considering all the available options,
his spokesman Bongani Ngqulunga said by phone on Thursday.

“The fact that the president is accused, must never be abused to give authority where is does not exist,” Mantashe said. “That’s why the report will now be taken on review.”

The ANC believes such a commission of inquiry “will help us go deep into these issues,” he said.

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