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South Africa watchdog delays Zuma graft report

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South Africa's President Jacob Zuma addressing the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York.  South African President Jacob Zuma moved on October 13, 2016 to block a watchdog's potentially explosive report into graft allegations against him, in his latest legal bid to protect his battered reputation. Zuma, 74, has survived a series of damaging scandals while in office, but has faced increasing criticism as the economy stalls and after the ruling ANC party suffered unprecedented losses in local polls.  / AFP PHOTO / Jewel SAMAD

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma addressing the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York.<br />South African President Jacob Zuma moved on October 13, 2016 to block a watchdog’s potentially explosive report into graft allegations against him, in his latest legal bid to protect his battered reputation. Zuma, 74, has survived a series of damaging scandals while in office, but has faced increasing criticism as the economy stalls and after the ruling ANC party suffered unprecedented losses in local polls.<br />/ AFP PHOTO / Jewel SAMAD

A potentially explosive report into corruption allegations against South African President Jacob Zuma will not be released on Friday as expected, lawyers said during last-minute court proceedings.

The investigation by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela was to be unveiled in Pretoria, one day before she steps down from a job in which she has regularly clashed with the president.

Madonsela’s report probed allegations that Zuma allowed the wealthy Gupta family to have undue influence over government, even having the power to nominate cabinet ministers.

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

Zuma and David van Rooyen, a minister implicated by the investigation, both launched court action to prevent the planned release of the report on Friday.

They have complained they were not given enough time to respond to Madonsela’s questions.

“Our client has taken the decision in the exercise of her discretion not to release the report (today),” a member of Madonsela’s legal team told the High Court in Pretoria.

Another court hearing on Zuma’s attempt to block the report is scheduled for Tuesday.

The president was last week quizzed by Madonsela as part of the probe.

Van Rooyen replaced trusted Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene in December, 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.

She leaves office after completing her non-renewable seven-year term.


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