South Africa’s elite police unit, the Hawks, has opened an inquiry into thousands of leaked emails involving alleged improper dealings in awarding government contracts, the unit’s spokesman said on Monday.
“An inquiry has been opened … obviously, we will look at the authenticity of these emails, how were they leaked, but this is something that we’ve just started,” the spokesman said.
Some South African media reported last week they had access to more than 100,000 leaked documents and emails that showed improper dealings in government contracts by business friends of president Jacob Zuma.
Zuma has denied wrongdoing.
NAN reports that on June 1, leaked documents released by the South African media alleging improper dealings in government contracts will open Zuma up to renewed scrutiny and may deepen divides in the ruling African National Congress.
Zuma has survived calls to resign from within the usually united ANC in recent weeks due to disputes over political appointments and his friendship with the Indian-born Gupta family, wealthy businessmen whose companies have contracts with state-owned firms.
Investigative journalists at AmaBhungane, a non-profit group that has a strong track record of exposing what it says are government corruption scandals, released some of more than 100,000 leaked emails and documents.
It says they prove Gupta-owned companies unduly influence the award of government contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars, including the building of locomotives and pre-payments for coal deliveries before a deal was signed.
A Gupta family spokesman did not respond to questions by phone and said he may reply to emailed inquiries from Reuters later.
The Gupta family and Zuma have denied wrongdoing when similar allegations have been made in the past.
Spokesmen for Zuma and the ANC did not respond.
Zuma’s camp is expected to back his ex-wife and former African Union chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, while another faction will support Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The contents of the leaked confidential government documents will likely embolden Zuma’s opponents in the ANC who want to oust him or prevent his chosen successor from becoming party president in December, analysts say.
“The leaks will play into the factional battle over succession which is getting intense. The stakes are very high,” said Daryl Glaser, politics professor at Johannesburg’s University of Witswatersrand.
“I don’t think that what comes out will be enough to result in Zuma resigning before December.”
A constitutionally mandated anti-graft watchdog alleged in a report in 2016 that the Guptas had undue influence over government officials and former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas said he was offered a promotion by the family.(Reuters/NAN)