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South Africa’s top court rebukes Zuma over graft probe

South Africa’s High Court has rebuked President Jacob Zuma for challenging the recommendations of the country’s corruption-fighting Public Protector for a graft probe against him, ordering the president to appoint a judicial inquiry into state influence-peddling within 30 days.

High Court Judge President Dunstan Mlambo slammed as “ill-advised and reckless” an application by Zuma challenging the influence-peddling inquiry that was recommended in a 2016 report by the Public Protector, an anti-corruption watchdog.

Zuma also sought to halt the release of the report, entitled “State of Capture”, which focused on allegations that his friends, the businessmen and brothers Ajay, Atul and Rajesh Gupta, had influenced the appointment of ministers.

Mlambo also ordered Zuma to pay the costs of the latest court challenge, saying his conduct was “clearly objectionable … and amounts to clear abuse of the judicial process”.

The judge described the allegations detailed in the report as “extremely serious”, saying a judicial commission was best suited to investigate the allegations against the South African leader.

The ruling comes about a week after the same court ruled that Zuma’s appointment of a state prosecutor to decide whether to reinstate corruption charges against him was invalid and should be set aside immediately.

The 75-year-old president has faced and denied many corruption allegations since taking office in 2009.

In October, the Supreme Court of Appeal upheld an earlier High Court ruling to reinstate corruption charges that had been filed against Zuma before he became president in 2009, saying rejecting the cases was “irrational.”

Scandal-hit Zuma is due to step down as the leader of the governing African National Congress (ANC) next week. He will resign as state president after general elections in 2019.

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