JOHANNESBURG Oct 10 South African President
Jacob Zuma, under scrutiny for his friendship with a wealthy
business family, has asked an anti-corruption watchdog not to
report her findings until he has had a chance to question other
witnesses, his office said on Monday.
Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, who has been a thorn in
Zuma's side, is due to release her findings by Friday, the day
before her seven-year term comes to an end. She questioned Zuma
for four hours last Thursday over allegations his business
friends, the Gupta family, had influenced political
Despite denials by Zuma and the Guptas, the affair has
damaged the president, who was separately forced to repay part
of the cost of a lavish upgrade to his private residence as a
result of an investigation by Madonsela.
The presidency said in a statement that Zuma had asked
Madonsela's office to confirm by Tuesday that it would not
conclude the current investigation and issue any report until he
was given a chance to question the witnesses involved.
"Furthermore, the President would want to exercise his right
to question some of the witnesses before responding to the
written questions and adducing evidence," the statement said
adding that he wanted to be assisted by a legal representative.
Zuma would testify after speaking to witnesses and reviewing
any evidence that implicated him in the matter, the statement
added. There was no immediate comment from the watchdog's
Madonsela spoke to Zuma and his lawyers behind closed doors
last week about the allegations that the Guptas had played a
role in selecting cabinet members and used their relationship
with the president to gain favour in terms of government
tenders, payments and licenses.
Her office said that for most of the four hours, the
president's lawyers argued that the probe should be deferred to
her successor, Busisiwe Mkhwebane.
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 won popular acclaim when her investigation into
$16 million of state spending on Zuma's private home was upheld
in the constitutional court and the president was forced to
repay some of the funds.
(Reporting by Nqobile Dludla; Editing by James Macharia and