Perjury, Sex Tape Hasten Gigaba's South African Cabinet Exit

(Bloomberg) -- South African Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba succumbed to pressure to quit after a court found he’d lied under oath and a compromising video of him was circulated on social media.

Gigaba’s exit Tuesday bolsters President Cyril Ramaphosa’s assertion that he’s committed to clamping down on graft and reversing the mismanagement that characterized his predecessor Jacob Zuma’s almost nine-year rule. Gigaba served as Zuma’s public enterprises minister and finance minister, and a group of leading academics alleged that he helped facilitate the looting of state funds by businessmen allied to the former president.

Perjury, Sex Tape Hasten Gigaba's South African Cabinet Exit

The resignation marks a swift fall from grace for one of the rising stars of South African politics, taking him from a top cabinet post less than a year ago to being branded a liar and apologizing for a leaked sex tape. It removes from government another of Zuma’s favorites and allows Ramaphosa to name his own minister to a key position as the ruling African National Congress seeks to bolster its reputation before elections next year.

“This is extremely good news,” said Sethulego Matebesi, a political analyst at the University of the Free State in the central town of Bloemfontein. “You do not antagonize people who win you the elections. At the end of the day he resigned out of his own accord. The president comes out with his hands clean.”

Perjury Ruling

In February, the High Court found that Gigaba committed perjury when he denied authorizing a company owned by the billionaire Oppenheimer family to operate a private immigration terminal at Johannesburg’s main airport. Two higher courts upheld the ruling, and last month anti-graft ombudsman Busisiwe Mkhwebane instructed Ramaphosa to take disciplinary action against Gigaba.

Gigaba, a 47-year-old former head of the ANC’s youth wing, denies any wrongdoing. He did, however, apologize for the video that he says was hacked from his phone and was only meant for his and his wife’s viewing.

The former minister said his resignation wasn’t an admission of guilt and that he plans to challenge the public protector’s ruling and defend his actions while in the cabinet.

‘Vitriolic Attack’

Gigaba stepped down “after a long period of sustained and vitriolic public attacks on my integrity,” he said in an emailed statement.

Ramaphosa won control of the ANC in December and took office two months later after the party forced Zuma to quit. Ramaphosa initially retained Gigaba and several other Zuma appointees in the cabinet in a bid to help heal divisions within the ANC caused by the leadership race.

“The president has accepted the minister’s resignation,” Ramaphosa’s office said in a statement. Gigaba took the decision “to relieve the president from undue pressure,” it said.

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