South African President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday abandoned a court bid to block a watchdog’s report into corruption allegations against him, as calls grew for him to stand down.
Zuma’s surprise move came as thousands of people took to the streets of the administrative capital Pretoria to demand that he leaves office.
It paves the way for the release of the probe into accusations that he allowed a wealthy Indian family undue political sway, including letting them choose some cabinet ministers.
“My instructions are to withdraw the application,” Zuma’s lawyer Anthea Platt told the High Court in Pretoria at the start of the second day of the hearing.
Former public ombudswoman Thuli Madonsela concluded her report into the influence of the Gupta family last month, shortly before the expiry of her seven-year term.
It was due to be released on October 14 until Zuma moved to block it.
The president, 74, has survived a string of damaging scandals, but faces increasing criticism as South Africa’s economy stalls and after the ruling ANC party suffered unprecedented losses in local polls.
Some factions of the ANC, former anti-apartheid activists and business leaders have all recently called for him to stand down before his term ends in 2019.
Today, thousands of opposition party supporters, unions and civil groups marched through Pretoria to protest against Zuma’s presidency.
“I spent the whole night here,” Dominic Khulube, 30, an unemployed man from Tembisa, a township outside Johannesburg, told AFP after a vigil by the leftist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party.
“Zuma must step down and the Guptas must leave the country. If he does not step down today we will be here until he steps down.” (AFP) ABH