ANC backs South African president Jacob Zuma in favours scandal

Ruling party expresses confidence after claims of political interference by Gupta family

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress secretary general Gwede Mantashe addressing the media in Pretoria on Sunday. “The ANC continues to confirm its full confidence in our president,” he said. Photograph: Mujahid Safodien/AFP/Getty Images

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress secretary general Gwede Mantashe addressing the media in Pretoria on Sunday. “The ANC continues to confirm its full confidence in our president,” he said. Photograph: Mujahid Safodien/AFP/Getty Images

 

South Africa’s ruling party said on Sunday it had full confidence in President Jacob Zuma after a three-day party summit following mounting claims of political interference by the leader’s business friends.

Pressure on Mr Zuma intensified when former cabinet spokesman Themba Maseko told the country’s Sunday Times newspaper that the president asked him in a 2010 phone call to meet the Guptas – a family of Indian-born businessmen who relocated to South Africa in the 1990s – at their home in Johannesburg and to “please help them”.

Mr Zuma has so far insisted his ties with the Gupta family are above board, but investors fear further political uncertainty could hasten a credit ratings downgrade, potentially into “junk” territory, and sharply raise South Africa’s borrowing costs.

Mr Zuma’s son, Duduzane, is a director – along with Gupta family members – of at least six companies, documents show.

The allegations have reinforced concerns over governance and stability in Africa’s most industrialised country. The opposition has called on Mr Zuma to resign.

Gwede Mantashe, secretary general of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), said the party’s national executive committee held “frank and robust discussions” over claims the Guptas had influenced the appointment of ministers and deputies.

“The appointment of ministers and deputy ministers is the sole prerogative of the president of the republic, in line with the constitution. To this end, the ANC continues to confirm its full confidence in our president,” Mr Mantashe told a nationally televised news conference.

Mr Mantashe said party officials had not discussed Mr Zuma standing down from the presidency during the summit. The 73-year-old president has survived several scandals over the years.

In the past week, senior officials have accused the Gupta family of wielding undue influence in government activities. The Guptas say they are pawns in a plot to oust Mr Zuma.

Mr Maseko said he met two Gupta brothers who wanted his help in directing government advertising to a newspaper that the family was launching, the report said.

The Gupta family rejected Mr Maseko’s accusations.

“We are bemused by Mr Maseko’s six-year-old allegations, which are totally unfounded,” Nazeem Howa, CEO of Oakbay Investments, the holding company for the Gupta family’s businesses in South Africa, said in a statement.

The presidency made no comment on the claims, but in a statement rejected local media reports of an impending government reshuffle this week as “mischievous”.

Reuters