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South Africa losing faith as Zuma corruption suspicions linger

Jacob Zuma is a serial survivor.

From accusations of rape (case dismissed), to allegations of using public money to finance lavish home improvements (guilty), he has fought on.

And for years the whiff of corruption has clung to his presidency - yet nothing has ever stuck.

So his growing band of critics pinned much hope on the findings of the official ethics watchdog, The Public Protector, into what is called here state capture.

The central charge is this: That Zuma has allowed a rich family of Indian-born businessmen, the Gupta, untoward influence over his government – mutual back-scratching for political and financial benefit.

The report, finally published today as the president’s lawyers abandoned court efforts to block it, isn’t quite the bombshell some longed for.

Many civilians are calling for Jacob Zuma to be ousted Credit: Reuters

But there is potentially devastating detail in its 350-odd pages.

To pick one juicy tale:

Junior finance minster Mcebisi Jonas says he was offered 600 million rand (around £36 million) by the Guptas in an account of his choice if he agreed to become finance minister.

There was even a down payment. The report says Mr Jonas was asked if ‘’he had a bag which he could use to receive and carry R600,000 in cash immediately, which he declined".

All those accused have denied wrongdoing, but after years of scandal many South Africans are no longer listening to Zuma’s protestation of innocence.

Protests against Jacob Zuma have turned violent Credit: Reuters

What happens next is down to the ANC. It’s getting harder to find senior members of the party prepared to offer unequivocal support.

Others are breaking ranks to openly call for him to go.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation and liberation struggle veterans we spoke to today say Zuma has failed the test of leadership and should quit.

All in all, it is a huge test for the movement that has run this country since apartheid and a huge challenge for what is still a young democracy.

And many of those believe it is a straight choice between rule by constitutional democracy or rule by cronyism.

South Africa's ethics watchdog is investigating activities linked to Zuma Credit: Reuters