South African Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba resigned on Tuesday, two weeks after a public standards watchdog said he had lied under oath in court.
Gigaba, a close ally of ousted former South African president Jacob Zuma, had vowed not to step down after also being caught up in a leaked sex video scandal.
According to a statement from South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s office, Gigaba said he had resigned “to relieve the president from undue pressure” and to allow Ramaphosa to focus on saving the nation from “economic meltdown.”
Gigaba, 47, was once seen as a rising star of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), leading the party’s youth wing and being quickly promoted to the ministerial ranks, but he became entangled in graft allegations during Zuma’s time in office.
Gigaba’s exit removes a key Zuma loyalist from the government led since February by Ramaphosa, who has vowed to root out the corruption critics say flourished under Zuma.
Gigaba was reprimanded last month by the public protector ombudswoman after he last year testified in a court case filed by a company controlled by the wealthy Oppenheimer family.
Public Protector Ombudswoman Busisiwe Mkhwebane recommended that Ramaphosa take disciplinary action against the minister for “telling an untruth under oath and before a court of law.”
The allegations were probed after a complaint from the opposition Democratic Alliance.
The court case hinged on whether Gigaba had given the Oppenheimers approval to have a private terminal at Johannesburg airport.
Gigaba has also said he was the target of extortion attempts after a private sex video was stolen by hackers.
He said in a statement late on Tuesday that he resigned after “a long period of sustained and vitriolic public attacks on my integrity.”
“I wish to state that my resignation is not an admission of guilt on my part,” he added.
Gigaba served as minister of finance for a year under Zuma, who was ousted as president by the ANC in February over mounting graft scandals.
When Ramaphosa succeeded Zuma, he moved Gigaba to the ministry of home affairs.
Gigaba has been linked to corruption allegations against the wealthy Gupta family, who are suspected of benefiting from unfair and hugely lucrative government contracts under Zuma.
A judicial inquiry, which opened in August, is investigating allegations that Zuma and the Guptas organized a web of corrupt deals at government departments and public enterprises in a scandal known as “state capture.”
All the accused deny any wrongdoing.
South Africa slipped into recession in the second quarter of this year and suffers a stubbornly high unemployment rate of about 28 percent.
The nation is to hold general elections in May.
Nhlanhla Nene resigned as minister of finance last month over undisclosed meetings with the Guptas.
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