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Zuma rejects closer look at family business deals

CAPE TOWN, Sept 13 – South Africa’s polygamous President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday rejected public scrutiny of his large extended family over claims that his relatives have benefitted from lucrative state contracts.

Zuma told parliament that the existing ethics code required disclosure of financial interests and gifts for members of the executive, their spouses, permanent companions, parents and dependent children.

“There are no current plans to extend this to all family members,” he said.

Zuma’s office says he holds no personal or financial interest in any business or corporate entity, but his family’s interests have been dubbed “Zuma Inc” in the local press.

The opposition Democratic Alliance argues that Zuma’s influence extends by proxy to his family members and friends, which opens them up for favour, and asked the president if he would welcome a debate on wider disclosure.

The party last month said Zuma’s family and friends are linked to several controversial deals including mine prospecting rights to a son, a government headquarters contract to a son-in-law, and a metro bus contract to a nephew.

South Africa’s presidential spousal budget nearly doubled after Zuma took office. He has three wives, a fiancee, and more than 20 children.

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