South Africa: Ombudsman's Report Leads to Calls for Zuma's Resignation

Published: 03 November 2016

Jacob Zuma 2014 croppedSouth African President Jacob Zuma (Photo: U.S. Department of State)

By Matthew Beinart

South African President Jacob Zuma is facing calls for his resignation after an ombudsman’s report released Wednesday detailed allegations of corruption and high-level influence peddling by senior officials.

The report, titled “State of Capture,” was made public on the order of a court in the province of Gauteng after Zuma dropped a legal challenge to its release.

The report, compiled by former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, calls for Zuma to establish a commission of inquiry within 30 days to probe allegations of corruption involving Zuma’s African National Congress (ANC) government.

Among other things, the report explores allegations that prominent businessman Ajay Gupta in 2015 offered the post of finance minister, as well as a payment of 600 million rand (US$ 44.62 million), to ANC politician Mcebisi Jonas in return for promises he would remove key treasury officials and advance the business interests of the Gupta family.

Jonas has said publicly he rejected the offer. Zuma eventually appointed Des van Rooyen, an ANC member of parliament who the report says was in contact with the Guptas days before his appointment. Van Rooyen’s appointment triggered a sharp drop in the rand, which led to his removal just four days into the job.

The report also alleges that the board of South African public energy utility Eskom deliberately favored awarding contracts to the Gupta-owned exploration company Tegeta to supply its plants with their coal.

South Africa’s main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), responded to the report on Thursday with calls for Zuma to step down.

“A leader with a conscience, committed to his oath of office, and the Constitution, would not have to think twice about what to do following the release of the report,” DA parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane said.

“There should have been only one official statement from the Presidency yesterday evening: a full and unconditional apology and an announcement of his resignation effective immediately.”