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South Africa’s finance minister resigns over Guptas’ corruption scandal
THE finance minister of South Africa, Nhlanhla Nene, has resigned from office after admitting meeting the Gupta family members, who have been accused of corruption.
The Guptas, a well-known business family in South Africa, were accused of working with the former President Jacob Zuma to get government contracts and determine cabinet appointments.
According to BBC, Cyril Ramaphosa, the country’s President said he accepted the minister’s resignation in the interests of good governance.
Nene was known for his support to President Ramaphosa to tackle graft that allegedly flourished under ex-president Zuma who was ousted in February 2018.
But Nene confessed to a judiciary inquiry last week that he had met with the Guptas at their home and offices six times, contradictory to his earlier statement that he had only met them in passing at special occasions.
Ramaphosa said there was no suggestion that Nene had done anything illegal in meeting the businessmen during his stint as deputy finance minister and finance minister in Zuma’s government
“It’s a measure of his character and commitment to the country that he has decided to resign despite not being implicated in any wrongdoing,” Ramaphosa said.
He added that Nene feared his testimony to the inquiry “detracted from the important task of serving the people of South Africa, particularly, as we work to re-establish public trust in government”
He said that the minister has been under intense political pressure to step down since making the admission.
Opposition groups in South Africa including the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) had called for Nene’s resignation.
“The DA’s complaint against Nene will be investigated,” said Oupa Segalwe, acting spokesman at Public Protector, South Africa’s constitutionally-mandated anti-graft watchdog.
The state prosecutor would investigate Nene for possibly breaching the executive code of ethics when he was the deputy minister.
The Guptas have three notable brothers accused of fraudulently profiting from vast government contracts, energy and transport deals under Zuma.
Zwelinzinma Vavi, an anti-corruption campaigner and former trades unionist described the Guptas ties with Zuma as a state capture.
Nene wrote an apology letter, after giving his testimony. “I was wrong in meeting the Guptas at their residence and not in my office or at least a public place,” the letter read.
He said those visits cast a shadow on his conduct as a public office bearer. “I deeply regret these lapses and beg your forgiveness.”
Ramaphosa appointed Tito Mboweni, a former central bank chief as the new finance minister on Tuesday.