South Africa’s anti-graft watchdog says minister misled parliament

A South African minister inadvertently misled parliament when she said a local consultancy firm linked to business friends of former President Jacob Zuma had no contracts with state power utility Eskom, a anti-graft watchdog said on Thursday.

New President Cyril Ramaphosa should take action within 14 days against the Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown, whose department oversees enterprises including Eskom, said Busisiwe Mkhwebane, head of the Public Protectors office.

“Minister Brown inadvertently misled Parliament in her assertion that there were no other contracts of engagement concluded between Eskom and Trillian,” said Mkhwebane in her report, adding that she breached a ministerial code of ethics.

Brown’s spokesman said he would issue a statement later.

This is the latest blow to a senior government official and comes as Ramaphosa is considering a cabinet reshuffle after replacing Zuma, whose rule was marred by a series of scandals.

Zuma’s business associates include three brothers from the Gupta family who have been accused of using their political connections to win state contracts and influence cabinet appointments. Zuma and the Gupta brothers deny wrongdoing.

Ramaphosa replaced Zuma as head of the ruling African National Congress in December having pledged to fight official corruption. Last week the party elected him head of state as Zuma resigned under political pressure.

Reporting by Tanisha Heiberg; Editing by James Macharia and Matthew Mpoke Bigg

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