South African minister notes worry about graft prosecutions

November 19, 2018 GMT

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — A Cabinet minister in South Africa on Monday citing concerns that efforts to prosecute people allegedly involved in corruption under former president Jacob Zuma are falling short.

Pravin Gordhan, the public enterprises minister, told a commission investigating corruption allegations that he has often heard South Africans ask why no “big figure” has ended up in a prison uniform.

Gordhan questioned “how many files are waiting on the desk of the National Prosecuting Authority?” with investigations and charges prepared but prosecutions yet to proceed.

As finance minister under Zuma, Gordhan was widely seen as a strong opponent of efforts to loot state coffers. Zuma fired Gordhan in 2017, but resigned in February. Zuma has since appeared in court on old corruption charges dating from his time as deputy president.

Zuma’s successor, President Cyril Ramaphosa, has vowed to fight corruption. His pledge comes as the ruling African National Congress party seeks to improve its tarnished image ahead of elections next year.

A commission of inquiry is investigating alleged corruption under Zuma in which his associates, including the Gupta business family, are said to have targeted state enterprises and tried to influence top government appointments for personal gain.

Zuma and the Guptas have denied any wrongdoing.