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SA opposition demands probe into Zuma

South African President Jacob Zuma

© Presidency of South Africa / afrol News
afrol News, 8 March
- South Africa's leading opposition party is set to demand an investigation into President Jacob Zuma's financial interests. The President should have declared his interests within 60 days of taking office, according to government's strict Ethics Code.

The Democratic Alliance (DA), the strongest opposition party in South Africa, claims President Zuma is effectively hiding his personal financial interests from the national public, thus defying ethic standards for government officials. He should have made public his interest within 60 days of swearing his oath, the DA holds.

DA leader Helen Zille today announced she had ordered MPs to write to the Public Protector, Thulisile Madonsela, "to request that her office investigates President Jacob Zuma's apparent breach of section 5 of the Executive Ethics Code, insofar as he has failed to disclose his financial interests, assets and liabilities within 60 days of taking office."

The Public Protector is obliged to carry out an investigation upon receipt of a complaint from a member of parliament over any alleged breach of the Ethics Code.

Presidential spokesperson Vincent Magwenya stated yesterday: "When he came into office there was a discussion about the need for him to declare. In the course of that discussion there was a lack of clarity on whether he really needs to declare. The lack of clarity was on the interpretation of the language in the act. There was a feeling that no, he does not need to declare - and also, there was a consideration of what has been the precedent."

Ms Zille sees the statement as an indirect admission of guilt on behalf of the President. "No-one who is innocent of wrongdoing behaves like this. The Presidency is going out of its way to find a reason for the President not to declare his financial interests."

"This is the behaviour of a man with something sinister to hide," Ms Zille adds. "If he had nothing to hide, after all, he would simply declare his interests, and the Presidency would not be doing legal somersaults to find a reason for him not to declare."

South Africa's Executive Ethics Code explicitly envisions the President and other members of the executive as being required to disclose their financial interests within 60 days of taking office, according to the DA's interpretation.

Ms Zille holds "there is no 'lack of clarity' or 'interpretation'” issue." Certainly President Mbeki never thought so. President Zuma was obliged to disclose his financial interests by 8 July 2009, and he failed to do so."

Mr Zuma became South African President in May last year after winning national elections heading the ANC party. The controversial leader earlier had been charged with corruption, but charges were dropped after revelations indicated the prosecution had political interests in stopping Mr Zuma's career.

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