South Africa graft agency will not oppose Zuma bid to delay Gupta report: eNCA TV

October 21, 2016 12:03 PM EDT

President Jacob Zuma speaks during his question and answer session in Parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, September 13, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings


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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's new anti-graft watchdog will not oppose President Jacob Zuma's court bid to delay the release of a report into allegations of political interference by the wealthy Gupta brothers, eNCA TV said, citing court documents.

Indian-born businessmen Ajay, Atul and Rajesh Gupta are the subject of an official investigation into allegations that they have had undue influence over Zuma.

The report, by the outgoing Public Protector, a constitutionally-mandated anti-graft official, was prevented from being made public last Friday by Zuma's application to the High Court to delay its release. Zuma has denied granting undue influence to the Guptas and they have denied seeking it.

Zuma's critics have voiced concern that a delay in the report could lead to a watering-down of its conclusions.

The television station quoted Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane as saying in court papers that it was up to the court to decide whether the report can be released.

Oupa Segalwe, a spokesman at the Public Protector, said he could not immediately confirm the report.

The court was due to hear Zuma's case on Nov. 1 before the report can be released. Zuma applied for that order last week on the grounds that he had not had the chance to question witnesses and review any evidence that implicated him.

Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Des van Rooyen also filed a court application to block the release of the report. Both cases are due to be heard on Nov. 1.

Madonsela said in June she would investigate whether or not Zuma unlawfully allowed the Gupta family to choose ministers and other occupants of high office.

Opposition parties have called for Zuma's resignation over his links with the Guptas and top members of the ruling African National Congress have condemned what they call "state capture" by private interests, without naming the president.

(Reporting by James Macharia; editing by Mark Heinrich)



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