June 13, 2017 / 11:26 AM / 7 months ago

South Africa's Gigaba says Gupta family were granted citizenship lawfully

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa’s Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba on Tuesday 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.

New allegations of inappropriate collusion between state-owned companies and business interests close to Zuma in recent weeks have put pressure on the scandal-plagued leader and ministers close to him.

Gigaba, appointed to head the Treasury in late March, has come under fire after Julius Malema, leader of the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party, on Monday tweeted pictures of government documents showing Gigaba had fast-tracked the naturalisation process for Gupta family members.

In a statement, Gigaba confirmed the authenticity of the documents but denied that they showed he had acted unlawfully.

“I have requested the Department of Home Affairs to provide chronological details of how all applications by the Gupta family have been handled by the Department of Home Affairs from the beginning. We have no doubt that the whole process has been handled by the book in terms of our laws,” said Gigaba.

He said it was within his powers to shorten the process of acquiring citizenship for the Gupta family members and that similar courtesies had been extended to prominent businessmen, including executives of multi-nationals, and sports people.

The EFF last week filed a criminal complaint against Gigaba over what it says is evidence of corruption in a lucrative government tenders. Gigaba and the Gupta family have denied doing any wrongdoing.

Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana; Editing by James Macharia

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