Zuma not channeling public contracts to relatives: spokesman

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South African President Jacob Zuma's relatives do not inappropriatly benefit from government contracts, a Zuma spokesman insisted Monday, following opposition charges of conflicts of interest.

The president "makes his annual declaration of interest... The declaration is designed to ensure that a conflict of interest does not arise in the performance of his executive office," spokesman Mac Maharaj said.

South Africa's main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party on Monday said laws regarding the business dealings of the president's family members needed to be tightened as Zuma relatives were benefitting from "mega tenders."

"The potential for the individuals closest to the president to be favoured in state deals is considerable," the DA said in a statement.

The party cited five notable cases, including that of Zuma's son-in-law, Lonwabo Sambudla, awarded a 100 million euros ($145 million) public tender to build a new headquarters for South Africa's Department of Public Service.

Two cabinet members pushed for the deal to go through, despite concerns about the cost expressed by civil servants in the public service department, the DA said.

The opposition party has announced plans to table a bill that would require South Africa's auditor general to scrutinise deals involving the president's relatives.

Zuma battled corruption charges for eight years, but they were dropped shortly before his election in 2009.

© 2011 AFP

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