JOHANNESBURG - Comfort Ngidi, reportedly a close ally of former president Jacob Zuma, has withdrawn his candidacy for the state capture commission of inquiry's legal and investigative teams on Tuesday.
Weekly newspaper Mail & Guardian reported Friday that Ngidi, a practising lawyer, had led the campaign to discredit former public protector Thuli Madonsela's Nkandla report.
Ngidi was on the verge of being appointed to assess evidence presented to the commission headed by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.
The newspaper reported that he was chairperson of an organisation called the Concerned Lawyers and Educationists for Equality before the Law, which set out to challenge the findings of Madonsela’s 'Secure in Comfort' report. The explosive report revealed that Zuma benefited from R246 million security upgrades to his Nkandla homestead.
The group set out to highlight “glaring flaws, inaccuracies, inconsistencies and contradictions” in the public protector’s Nkandla and worked with former Gupta ally Mzwanele Manyi during their campaign.
Ngidi said his withdrawal was due to time constraints, spokesman for the state capture commission Mbuyiselo Stemela said on Tuesday.
"The reasons advanced by Mr Ngidi for the withdrawal of his request include that when he made his request, the commission was meant to complete its work within six months but now it has said that it needs 24 months, and he would not be available for such a long time," Stemela said in a statement.
The commission is probing allegations of undue influence on Zuma, government officials and heads of state-owned enterprises by the fugitive Gupta family and their associates.
The investigation emanates from Madonsela's explosive state capture report that implicated government officials, cabinet ministers, and heads of SoEs. The report showed how the Guptas had made R6 billion through questionable state contracts and had planned to increase the rake-in to R8 billion.
Furthermore, former deputy minister of finance Mcebisi Jonas and former African National Congress member of Parliament (MP) Vytjie Mentor were offered ministerial posts at the family's Saxonwold compound. Jonas was allegedly offered a R600 million bribe by the family to take up the position of finance minister.
Madonsela tweeted on Sunday that Ngidi's organisation had gone further and tried to have her disbarred from practising law.
"This organisation launched many more attacks against my office simply for doing our work diligently. They even tried to disbar me as an advocate for simply doing my job on Nkandla ethical considerations and asserting the binding powers of the public protector," she tweeted.
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African News Agency (ANA)