A South African corruption watchdog said President Cyril Ramaphosa “deliberately misled” Parliament about a campaign contribution, a setback for a leader who has vowed to address sprawling graft allegations that forced his predecessor from office and sparked national outrage. The report was released as that former president, Jacob Zuma, abandoned his testimony to a high-profile state commission probing wide-ranging allegations of graft in government and state-owned companies. Zuma, who denies the allegations against him, asserted he was being treated unfairly. But a deal was quickly reached for him to return at some point in the future. The outcry over years of alleged corruption during Zuma’s stay in office has shaken both the economy of South Africa, the most developed in sub-Saharan Africa, and public support for the ruling African National Congress. The party has been in power since the end of the harsh system of racial segregation known as apartheid 25 years ago. Now the ANC faces an internal struggle between allies of Cyril Ramaphosa and Jacob Zuma, who led South Africa from 2009 to 2018 when he resigned under party pressure and was replaced by former deputy Ramaphosa. The current president has repeatedly vowed to fight corruption and win back public confidence. Friday’s report by South Africa’s public protector, a constitutionally created office that probes alleged misconduct in state affairs, said Ramaphosa “deliberately misled” lawmakers late last year about a 500,000-rand ($34,000) campaign contribution from the CEO of a local company, Africa Global Operations, formerly Bosasa. The report called
Anger over brazen corruption and weariness over the political status quo are widespread among the Panamanian electorate ahead of Sunday's vote to pick a successor to President Juan Carlos Varela, on whose watch Latin America's fastest growing economy cooled off significantly.
In what has been perhaps the shortest and least colorful campaign since Panama's transition to democracy three decades ago, most election talk has focused on government malfeasance following the massive leak of law firm documents in the Panama Papers and a regionwide scandal involving bribes paid by Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht.
The Odebrecht case "is particularly relevant in Panama in light of the Panama Papers," said Michael Shifter, president of the Washington-based Inter-American Dialogue, alluding to the fact that many of the shell companies that became public through the leak from a Panamanian law firm were used to funnel bribes from the Brazilian company.
"Corruption becomes an even more important issue in the context of the country's recent sluggish economic performance," he continued. "Many Panamanians are fed up with the political class and have been disappointed by successive administrations."