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REFILE-South African watchdog to quiz Zuma in Gupta inquiry, newspaper reports
October 5, 2016 / 7:51 AM / a year ago

REFILE-South African watchdog to quiz Zuma in Gupta inquiry, newspaper reports

(Corrects spelling of former finance minister’s name in 8th paragraph)

JOHANNESBURG, Oct 5 (Reuters) - South Africa’s public protector will question President Jacob Zuma this week over allegations he was influenced by the wealthy Gupta family in making government appointments, according to the newspaper Business Day.

The Gupta family became household names in South Africa after Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas dropped a political bombshell earlier this year when he said they offered to secure him his boss’s job.

Zuma says the Guptas are his friends but denies they have influenced political appointments.

“We will hear his version of events and he may have information for us that we will need to consider against our own findings,” the public protector, Thuli Madonsela, told Business Day in an interview published on Wednesday.

Madonsela’s spokeswoman said she couldn’t immediately comment.

Presidency spokesman Bongani Majola confirmed the meeting would take place, probably on Thursday, Business Day said. Majola did not respond to a request for comment.

The Guptas, who moved to South Africa from India after apartheid fell in 1994, run businesses ranging from uranium and coal mining to media and information technology.

Madonsela has already interviewed Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, his predecessor, Nhlanhla Nene, and Jonas. She will interview at least 20 other top officials and members of Zuma’s cabinet, according to local media. Her report should be released by Oct. 14, her chief of staff told Reuters.

Madonsela, whose term as public protector ends this month, previously received public support in South Africa for taking Zuma to task over the spending of 240 million rand ($17 million) of state money on upgrading his private home.

She was vindicated in March when the Constitutional Court, the country’s highest court, said Zuma had breached the constitution by ignoring her recommendation that he repay some money that was spent on non-security upgrades.

Zuma has since handed back some of the funds. (Reporting by Joe Brock; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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