South Africa's Ramaphosa backs graft probe of Zuma's government

South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa leaves after a lecture at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore October 7, 2016. REUTERS/Edgar Su

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday said he wants allegations of influence-peddling in government investigated, lending his support to a probe called for by the anti-graft watchdog but which President Jacob Zuma has so far ignored.

Ramaphosa is considered a likely candidate for president when the ruling African National Congress elects its new leaders later this year, but he has not formally announced his intention to stand.

The nation's Public Protector in November called on Zuma to appoint a judicial commission of inquiry within 30 days to examine alleged "state capture" in his government, but Zuma has not yet appointed a commission, challenging the report in court instead.

"I support that there should be a judicial commission of inquiry," Ramaphosa said to loud applause at a memorial service for late freedom fighter Chris Hani.

"We need to put this (matter) to rest ... If there is any wrongdoing, it must be exposed," Ramaphosa said.

Zuma is facing renewed calls for him to step down after South Africa's credit rating was downgraded to sub-investment grade this month by S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings shortly after he sacked respected finance minister Pravin Gordhan.

Last year's 355-page report by the watchdog focussed on allegations that the brothers, Ajay, Atul and Rajesh Gupta - businessmen of Indian origin - influenced the appointment of ministers. It called for an investigation into whether Zuma, some of his cabinet members and some state companies acted improperly.

Both Zuma and the Gupta family have denied any wrongdoing.

(Reporting by TJ Strydom; editing by Clelia Oziel)

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