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South Africa opposition call for probe into Jacob Zuma

Jacob Zuma
Jacob Zuma's advisers say he has nothing to hide

South Africa's opposition leader has called for an investigation into whether President Jacob Zuma has broken the government's strict ethics code.

This says all members of the cabinet must declare their financial interests within 60 days of taking office.

He has not done so nine months after his inauguration - his spokesman said there was a difference of opinion.

But the president is now compiling the list in case legal advice says he should declare his interests.

"Mr Zuma is not hiding anything," his spokesperson Vincent Magwenya told local media.

His failure to declare demonstrates the level of contempt this president has for transparency in government
Athol Trollip
Democratic Alliance

But opposition Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille retorted: "If he had nothing to hide... he would simply declare his interests and the presidency would not be doing legal somersaults to find a reason for him not to declare."

The BBC's Pumza Fihlani in Johannesburg says Mr Zuma seems to be buckling under the mounting pressure.

'Contempt'

Local media reported at the weekend that Mr Zuma has not declared his business dealings, leading to renewed calls from the Congress of South African Trade Unions, Cosatu - a partner of the ANC in government.

"We believe that you cannot be a people's champion during the day but at night you count shares that have been obtained through exploitation," said the union's General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi, the Sapa news agency reports.

The DA says Mr Zuma's apparent lack of transparency had cast a shadow on his intentions to end corruption in government and uphold the constitution.

Ms Zille wants the Public Protector to investigate whether Mr Zuma had violated the Code of Conduct by his actions and warns the delay may cause mistrust.

"His failure to declare demonstrates the level of contempt this president has for transparency in government," said party MP Athol Trollip.

"President Zuma needs to stop trying to bend the law to suit his interests. President Mbeki declared his interests. The law is absolutely explicit that a president must declare his interests."

Independent Democrats leader Patricia de Lille backed the call.

Mr Zuma is the latest to be called upon to reveal his interests, after he recently rejected calls from Cosatu for government ministers and politicians to undergo a "lifestyle audit" to ensure they are not living beyond their stated means.

Our reporter says this decision may now be closely scrutinised.

Mr Zuma's attorney Michael Hulley, who also handled his rape trial, is currently handling the matter - the list will include records of the interests of his three wives and 20 children.



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