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S Africa watchdog calls for release of Zuma graft report

AFP  |  Pretoria 

South Africa's anti-corruption watchdog called Friday for her report into graft allegations against President Jacob Zuma to be released as soon as possible after he blocked it with a legal challenge.

Public Protector Thuli Madonsela had been due to publish the report into accusations that Zuma allowed a business family to have undue influence over government and even to nominate cabinet ministers.

But the president yesterday launched last-minute action delaying the release, saying he had not had time to respond to questions about so-called "state capture" by the Gupta family.

"I disagree with those who say the 'state capture' investigation was not urgent," Madonsela told reporters.

"This matter has created so much fracture in the executive and in the country, it was necessary for the investigation to be done and to be done fast so that any cloud is cleared."

The potentially explosive report was expected to be released today, the last day in office for Madonsela, who has regularly clashed with the president.

Zuma, 74, has survived a series of damaging scandals, but has faced increasing criticism as the economy stalls and after the ruling ANC party suffered unprecedented losses in local polls.

Madonsela said her report had been completed and handed to the parliamentary Speaker "for safe-keeping" pending a hearing next month.

"Just because sometimes we deal with underhand people, it doesn't mean we also have to be underhanded," she said, adding she was not directly referring to Zuma.

Madonsela declined to comment on new reports that ANC lawmaker David van Rooyen had met the Guptas the night before his appointment as finance minister in December.

Van Rooyen replaced the widely-respected Nhlanhla Nene, but was removed from the job after only four days, following a market plunge and political outrage.

Under Madonsela, the Public Protector's office has gained a reputation as a formidable corruption buster, handing down scathing findings against Zuma, state agencies and public companies.

Reflecting on her much-praised time in office, she said: "It is about finding the truth and telling it the best you know how in an effort to help the government treat its people properly.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, October 14 2016. 22:02 IST