Former South African president Jacob Zuma, at the state commission that is probing wide-ranging allegations of corruption in government and state-owned companies in Johannesburg, Friday, July 19, 2019. Zuma has denied corruption allegations against him, saying the charges are part of an international intelligence conspiracy that started more than 25 years ago to assassinate his character. (Pool Photo via AP)

South Africa's president accused of misleading Parliament

July 19, 2019 - 11:41 am

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — A South African corruption watchdog on Friday said President Cyril Ramaphosa "deliberately misled" Parliament about a campaign contribution, a setback for a leader who has vowed to address sprawling graft allegations that forced his predecessor from office and sparked national outrage.

The report was released as that former president, Jacob Zuma, abandoned his testimony to a high-profile state commission probing wide-ranging allegations of graft in government and state-owned companies. Zuma, who denies the allegations against him, asserted he was being treated unfairly. But a deal was quickly reached for him to return in the future.

The outcry over years of alleged corruption during Zuma's stay in office has shaken both the economy of South Africa, the most developed in sub-Saharan Africa, and public support for the ruling African National Congress. The party has been in power since the end of the harsh system of racial segregation known as apartheid 25 years ago.

Now the ANC faces an internal struggle between allies of Ramaphosa and Zuma, who led South Africa from 2009 to 2018 when he resigned under party pressure and was replaced by former deputy Ramaphosa.

The current president has repeatedly vowed to fight corruption and win back public confidence.

Friday's report by South Africa's public protector, a constitutionally created office that probes alleged misconduct in state affairs, said Ramaphosa "deliberately misled" lawmakers late last year about a 500,000-rand ($34,000) campaign contribution from the CEO of a local company, Africa Global Operations, formerly Bosasa. The report called on the national director of public prosecutions to investigate further.

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