|12. September 2016
Zuma pays back the money
President Jacob Zuma has finally paid back R7.8-million - a portion of the tax money spent on installing non-security features at his Nkandla homestead in rural KwaZulu-Natal - seven years after renovations first started. The saga began with renovations estimated at R60-million taking place at Nkandla. But this figure quickly ballooned to R246-million through inflated pricing, later discovered by public protector Thuli Madonsela.
A statement released by Zuma’s office on Monday confirmed the president has paid back the money. “President Zuma has paid over the amount of R7 814 155.00 to the South African Reserve Bank as ordered by the Constitutional Court of South Africa in respect of his private homestead at Nkandla,” it reads.
By the time the Nkandla renovations were completed, the project costs had skyrocketed and close to R100-million was spent on a chicken run, cattle kraal, calvert, visitors’ centre, swimming pool and amphitheatre.
In March this year, the Constituional Court found that Madonsela’s “Secure in Comfort” report on the expenditure at Nkandla, correctly classified these features as non security upgrades. Chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng said Zuma’s failure to comply with Madonsela’s remedial action was tantamount to him breaking his oath of office. Mogoeng instructed the national treasury to determine a reasonable amount Zuma would have to pay back and set a time frame of 45 days for him to do so. On Monday afternoon, treasury confirmed that Zuma had paid R7.8-million rand back to the state.
While the finances of the first family have always been subject to gossip and speculation, the presidency’s statement confirms that Zuma did not turn to his relatives or well-known business associates to pay the Nkandla bill.
Instead, the presidency says, Zuma was granted a standard home loan by VBS Mutual Bank, a wholly black-owned bank started in 1982 as the Venda Building Society. In its statement, presidential spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga said VBS is “one of the few financial institutions which offer home loans in respect of land owned by traditional authorities”. This means that Zuma received the loan despite not being in possession of a title deed for the land on which his homestead was built.
According to the VBS website, which lists the bank’s shareholding structure, 25% of the bank is owned by the state-owned Public Investment Corporation, 26% by Dyambeu Investments, 1% by its staff and 48% by an unnamed source.
(Mail & Guardian, Johannesburg)