AFRICANGLOBE – President Jacob Zuma depended on a circle of South African businessmen and politicians to fund a lifestyle that vastly exceeded the means of his official salary, receiving payments exceeding Rand 8 million (£576,000), according to an audit of his affairs.
The 490-page study lays bare the scale of Jacob Zuma’s reliance on numerous benefactors – including Nelson Mandela who sent him R1m (£72,000) – in the period when he was deputy president until 2005. Chief among the donors was Schabir Shaik, a Durban businessman who served as his financial adviser and was sent to prison for paying Jacob Zuma in return for favours.
The audit, prepared by the accountancy firm KPMG, would have formed a central plank of the case against Mr Zuma if he had stood trial for 16 counts of alleged corruption, fraud, tax evasion and racketeering. He always protested his innocence and, in the event, all the charges were dropped shortly before he became president in 2009, so the case was never tested in court.
Jacob Zuma’s Alleged Corruption
The study, leaked to the “Mail and Guardian”, a South African weekly, details how Jacob Zuma received 783 separate payments from Shaik or the businessman’s company, totalling over Rand 4 million (£288,000).
As for what Shaik might have expected in return, the High Court convicted him of corruption in 2005. Referring to the payments to Jacob Zuma, Mr Justice Hilary Squires ruled: “No sane or rational businessman would conduct his business on such a basis without expecting some benefit from it”. the judge added: “Zuma did in fact intervene to try and assist Shaik’s business interests.” Shaik, for his part, argued that the payments were only loans designed to help an old friend.
Jacob Zuma’s dependence on businessmen and friends went even further than had been thought, according to the report. It discloses that Mr Zuma was incapable of managing his own finances, leaving a trail of terrible credit ratings, overdrawn bank accounts and unpaid credit card bills.