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SA minister to testify at Gupka probe


South Africa’s Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene is due to give evidence on Wednesday at an inquiry into influence-peddling, testimony that could reveal new details about the role of former president Jacob Zuma and his friends, the Guptas.

Mr. Nene is a pivotal figure in a probe into the three Indian-born Gupta brothers, who built a business empire during Mr. Zuma’s nine-year tenure only to see it disintegrate as the scandal-plagued leader was forced out by his own party in February.

Both the former president and the Gupta family have denied any wrongdoing. They say the allegations are part of an orchestrated witch hunt.

In December 2015, Mr. Zuma sacked Mr. Nene and replaced him with largely unknown lawmaker Des van Rooyen.

The move  sent markets into a tailspin before Mr. Zuma appointed investor-friendly Pravin Gordhan as his third finance minister in four days.

Mr. Nene has never given details about a dramatic period that revealed to global investors for the first time what was at stake in a battle within the ruling African National Congress over the influence of the Guptas.

Mr. Zuma’s successor as president Cyril Ramaphosa re-appointed Mr. Nene finance minister in February this year.

Last month, the long-awaited probe into allegations the Guptas used ties to the embattled former president to win billions of rand’s worth of government contracts opened. Some witnesses testified that the brothers had tried to bribe them.

Other witnesses said the Guptas had threatened them.

The public inquiry is empowered to make recommendations for prosecutions.

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