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South Africa's deputy finance minister asked to step aside over abuse of power claim

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08/01/2020 | 08:05am EDT
Supporters of the African National Congress hold the party flag during ANC president Jacob Zuma's election campaign in Atteridgeville a township located to the west of Pretoria

South Africa's Deputy Finance Minister David Masondo has been asked to step down by the governing African National Congress party's integrity commission for involving an elite police unit in a dispute with a former lover.

Masondo has been tasked with driving pro-growth economic reforms and is among potential successors to current Finance Minister Tito Mboweni.

A former leader of the Young Communist League, he is seen as more left-wing than Mboweni. Earlier this year he called for the central bank to print money to fund the government response to the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout.

In a letter to Masondo seen by Reuters, the ANC's integrity commission said his actions had brought the party into disrepute and showed poor judgment.

Masondo's written response, also seen by Reuters, insists he had acted on the advice of his lawyer when reporting the former partner to the police for harassing him and his family.

He sent WhatsApp messages to the commission that he said corroborated the harassment claim. He asked the commission for further guidance and said he was aware that ANC leaders were expected to subject themselves to "organisational processes".

Neither Masondo, the ANC nor the chairman of the integrity commission responded to requests for comment.

The integrity commission is expected to deliberate further. If it maintains he must resign, Masondo could appeal the decision, or the matter could be referred to the ANC's national executive committee.

(Reporting by Alexander Winning; Editing by Mike Harrison)

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