A potentially explosive report into corruption allegations against President Jacob Zuma must be released on Wednesday, a South African court has ruled, after his lawyers dropped a bid to block its publication.
The court’s order came as thousands of people took to the streets of the administrative capital Pretoria to demand that Zuma resigns.
The report by the Public Protector, the country’s most senior watchdog, probed accusations that Zuma allowed a wealthy Indian family undue political sway, including letting them choose some cabinet ministers.
“The Public Protector is ordered to publish the report forthwith and by no later than 17:00 hours (15:00 GMT),” judge Dunstan Mlambo told the High Court in Pretoria.
Former public protector Thuli Madonsela concluded her report into the influence of the Gupta family last month, shortly before the expiry of her seven-year term.
It was due to be released on Oct. 14 — until Zuma moved to block it.
Zuma’s lawyers dropped their bid to block the report earlier on Wednesday.
“My instructions are to withdraw the application,” Anthea Platt, Zuma’s lawyer, told the High Court in Pretoria.
Later in the day, the presidency released a statement saying Zuma withdrew his application to delay the release of the report in the interests of justice.
“In the interest of justice and speedy resolution of the matter, the president decided to withdraw his application,” the presidency said.
“The president will give consideration to the contents of the report in order to ascertain whether it should be a subject of a court challenge.”
Mmusi Maimane, leader of the main opposition Democratic Alliance party, hailed the court order to publish the report as “a turning point in South Africa.”
He added: “Today is a historic day … Jacob Zuma must be held accountable. There are some people in this country who are convinced that if Zuma is convicted, he must step down,” said Al Jazeera’s Haru Mutasa, reporting from Pretoria.
“That is going to be a process of course. Some opposition leaders are saying that they will drag him to court, some say they want parliament to have a vote of non-confidence and some want him to be impeached.
“It will be a process, but people are waiting to see what is going to be in this report, how damaging it will be to the president.”
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