Many questions around Zuma’s Nkandla loan

2012-11-21 00:00

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma insists he does have a home loan for his Nkandla property — but the circumstances of it are clouded in questions.

Presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj yesterday insisted Zuma had a “home loan” and would provide proof to any authorities who wanted access, but he would not provide further details to the media.

City Press and Rapport reported at the weekend that there was no record at the Deeds Office of a bond relating to Zuma’s Nkandla property. The Ingonyama Trust, which owns the land, said it had no record of a bond being registered over the property either.

Maharaj could not explain why there was no record of the Nkandla bond being associated with the president or the Nkandla property, but said the home loan was from a national financial institution and that Zuma continued to service it.

“I am not Ingonyama Trust or the Deeds Office. What we are asserting is that there is a bond and there is proof,” he said.

Maharaj’s response suggests the bond could relate to a transaction at the heart of the fraud and corruption trial of Zuma’s financial adviser Schabir Shaik.

Zuma told Parliament last week that he and his family had paid for every building that they lived in at Nkandla, but the evidence led at Shaik’s trial tells a different story.

The Nkandla developments and who paid for them lay at the core of Shaik’s trial and the state’s case that Shaik solicited bribes from French arms manufacturers specifically to help Zuma pay for Nkandla.

During the trial, evidence was led by KPMG forensic auditor Johan van der Walt which showed how money flowed from various third parties to help Zuma pay the R1,3 million bill for the “cultural village” that he was unable to afford.

The evidence showed that with the help of Vivian Reddy, a Durban construction and casino tycoon who on Sunday leapt to the president’s defence, Zuma was able to raise a home loan of R900 000 from First Rand with Reddy standing surety for R400 000 of the amount.

The evidence said that not only did Reddy stand surety, but that he was also responsible for paying the instalments on the loan and did, in fact, pay the instalments for most of 2003 and into 2004.

But, according to the evidence, it was not only Reddy who helped out.

Bohlabela Wheels, owned by leading Mpumalanga businesswomen Nora Fakude-Nkuna, made payments of R140 000, according to the trial evidence, to the company building at Nkandla.

Fakude-Nkuna did not reply to requests for comment left on her cellphone yesterday and Shaik declined to comment.

The Mail & Guardian Online, in its story on the issue, says: “At R900 000 the bond represents only a fraction of the amount of money Zuma claims has been spent out of family pockets. According to documents from the Department of Public Works, Zuma’s contribution to construction costs should be in the region of R10 million, and independent assessments of the buildings, which Zuma said the family paid for, suggest the cost could be even higher.”

The trial evidence shows that to secure the debt of R900 000, Zuma signed over his rights for “permission to occupy” two pieces of tribal authority land. It is not clear if this land is the same property owned by the Ingonyama Trust and could explain why the Ingonyama Trust say they are unaware of a bond relating to the property they own. The Ingonyama Trust could not be reached yesterday to clarify this.

But even the home loan application had unusual aspects. An FNB Home Loans official is reflected in the evidence as saying in an internal e-mail: “I am sure the powers that be will assist us where we need to bend the rules a little”.

M&G notes that Maharaj was a director of FNB at the time.

Maharaj would not comment on the evidence that others had paid significant amounts for the Nkandla development. “President Zuma was never called in that case and was not a co-accused,” he said.

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