South African watchdog mulls opposing Zuma plan to block influence peddling report


 Reuters International

South African President Jacob Zuma greets supporters at a rally to commemorate the 105th birthday of his ruling African National Congress (ANC), in Soweto, South Africa January 8, 2017. REUTERS/James Oatway

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PRETORIA (Reuters) - South African anti-corruption watchdog is seeking legal advice on whether to oppose President Jacob Zuma's court action to set aside an influence-peddling report, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane said on Thursday.

Mkhwebane's comments could be a headache for Zuma, whose scandal-ridden leadership has been weakened further by allegations against him in the report, spurred calls for him to step down and rattled financial markets.

The Public Protector, a constitutionally-mandated watchdog, released the report in November last year, after a probe over allegations of influence-peddling against Zuma, who launched legal action to set the report aside.

Speaking to reporters in news conference to mark 100 days in office, Mkhwebane said she was seeking legal advice on how to proceed as it was complex matter that had no legal precedence.

"The report is out there. The president has applied for a judicial review, which is within his rights, therefore it (legal advise) is to make sure whether to oppose or not to oppose that application," she said.

While stopping short of conclusive findings, the report by the watchdog has increased political pressure on Zuma by calling for an investigation into whether he, some cabinet members and some state companies acted improperly.

(Reporting by Nqobile Dludla; Editing by James Macharia)

Reuters

 Reuters International