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FILE PHOTO: South Africa's Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba addresses a news conference in Pretoria, South Africa, April 4, 2017. REUTERS/James Oatway/File Photo

(reuters_tickers)

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba denied unlawfully granting citizenship to five members of the wealthy Gupta family who are friends of President Jacob Zuma, during his time as minister of home affairs.

"There is no impropriety on the part of the Minister in relation to how the application in question has been handled," the finance ministry said in a statement, adding that it was within Gigaba's powers to shorten the process for the family.

The accusation against Gigaba was made on Monday by Julius Malema, leader of the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters party.

(Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana; Editing by James Macharia)

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