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Public Protector must release Gupta reports

20 June 2017

South Africa's anti-corruption watchdog will oppose President Jacob Zuma's court bid to set aside an influence-peddling report, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane said on Monday.

In a statement, Absa said, "The Provisional Report does not address at all the fact that Absa paid fair value when it acquired Bankorp, which value was calculated to take into account the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) assistance i.e. Absa paid for the SARB assistance to Bankorp and did not benefit therefrom".

"We will continue to honour our constitutional mandate and the trust placed in us by the South African society".

Economists Nic Borain and Jeff Schultz at BNP Paribas South Africa said in a note that the Public Protector had placed the future of the central bank's autonomy into question.

Mkhwebane made the comments at a briefing in which she also ordered a re-opening of investigations into apartheid-era transactions between the state and Absa Bank.

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On Sunday, DA MP and justice spokesperson Glynnis Breytenbach said that with the flurry of reports uncovering state capture, it was more important than ever for the public protector to investigate and report without fear or favour.

"Absa did not make a provision in its accounts for the repayment of the interest on the SARB loan to Bankorp because no such liability to repay interest existed", they said. Zuma's lawyers also argued it was unconstitutional for the public protector to tell the president to set up a judicial commission and decide who should chair it within 30 days.

In December, the president lodged an application at the High Court in Pretoria to review and set aside the remedial action in the State of Capture report.

The findings Mkhwebane released differ vastly from a preliminary report that the public protector's office compiled last year, and which the Mail & Guardian reported on in January this year.