Former South African president abandons graft testimony

Former South African president Jacob Zuma

DA says Ramaphosa report 'only scratched the surface' of his dealings

South Africa's ethics watchdog on Friday said President Cyril Ramaphosa misled Parliament past year over a 500,000 rand ($36,000) donation to his campaign fund from a company facing extensive corruption allegations.

Critics of Ms Mkhwebane accuse her of bias and say she has become a participant in a fight-back by allies of former President Zuma, who is now facing numerous allegations of corruption himself. "I by no way did anything else with them unlawfully", he said of the Gupta family.

In a report released on Friday, Ms Mkhwebane said "although President Ramaphosa may have justified to correct the earlier statement on erroneous or incomplete information at his disposal, he indeed misled Parliament".

"To this end, no person regardless of the position they hold is above law", he said.

In response to the allegations, Ramaphosa said on Friday that he would study the public protector's report and make a decision on any further action.

She said her preliminary view was that "such scenario, when looked at carefully, creates a situation of the risk of some sort of state capture by those donating these moneys to the campaign".

In her bombshell report, advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane also found that there was "merit" in the suspicion of money laundering, because the payment passed through "several intermediaries, instead of a straight donation towards the CR17 campaign". Zuma will return to give evidence in public at a later stage, but it is not yet clear when. She added Ramaphosa said there was no legal obligation to disclose sources of private funding in an internal political party election.

"The ANC has full confidence in President Ramaphosa's ability to champion efforts of building the South Africa we want free from disunity and underdevelopment", Mabe said.

The outcry over years of alleged corruption during Zuma's stay in office has shaken both the economy of South Africa, the most developed in sub-Saharan Africa, and public support for the ruling African National Congress.

Although analysts aren't predicting Ramaphosa will be removed from office soon, the report provides ammunition to his enemies with which to attack him. His lawyer, Muzi Sikhakhane, had said on Friday that Mr Zuma would "take no further part" in the proceedings.

Zuma, 77, has long denied any wrongdoing and has ducked and dived in his testimony to the inquiry this week, complaining that he is being questioned unfairly.

Numerous revelations from the inquiry concern the relationship between two families - the Zumas, centred on the former president, and the Guptas, three Indian-born brothers who moved to South Africa after the fall of apartheid.

On Monday Zuma denied that he had done anything unlawful with his friends the Guptas, three Indian-born businessmen who won lucrative state contracts during his time in power, repeating: "I know nothing".

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