South Africa's Ruling Party Calls for Probe of Leaked Emails

  • Emails implicate President Zuma, members of Gupta family
  • Zuma, Guptas dismiss reports, say allegations are unproved

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South Africa’s ruling party urged the government to investigate the veracity of thousands of leaked emails that allegedly prove that members of the wealthy Gupta family, who are friends with President Jacob Zuma, exerted undue influence over his administration and state companies.

“The African National Congress views these allegations in a very serious light,” party spokesman Zizi Kodwa said in an emailed statement on Friday. “The ANC calls on government to urgently seek to establish the veracity of these claims and explanation from those implicated. These reports contain very worrying claims about the nature of the relationship between government and private interests.”

The amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism and Scorpio, the Daily Maverick news website’s investigative unit, say they have secured access to as many as 200,000 emails and other documents that implicate the Guptas, Zuma and a number of his top officials in wrongdoing.

The Sunday Times and City Press newspapers also say they have accessed some of the mails, which show that the Guptas had aided Zuma’s efforts to acquire residency in the United Arab Emirates and exerted undue influence over cabinet ministers and the management and boards of several state-owned companies.

None of the four media organizations disclosed where they got the information or how they verified the documents.

Zuma told lawmakers on Thursday that all allegations against him were based on hearsay and that newspaper reports didn’t constitute evidence that he was party to a plan of “state capture,” the term used in South Africa to define allowing private business interests to influence the government. Zuma’s spokesman Bongani Ngqulunga couldn’t immediately comment when contacted by phone on Friday.

Gert van der Merwe, a lawyer for the Guptas said in a May 29 statement that the reports implicating his clients constituted “fake news,” relied on “undisclosed documents and assumptions of impropriety” and were intended to influence political perceptions.

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