Show us the money, Mr Zuma
- Pierre de Vos
- 16 Nov 2012 12:02 (South Africa)
Zuma did not dispute the claim that almost R250 million of public funds were used for various buildings and renovations at his Nkandla home. Neither did he dispute the fact that the Ministerial Handbook does not allow security upgrades at the private residence of a public official (whether used as an official residence or not) for more than R100,000.
“All the buildings and every room we use in that residence, was built by ourselves as family and not by government,” he reiterated. “I have never asked government to build a home for me, and it has not done so. Government did not build a home for me.”
He said he was still paying off the bond for the five family buildings in the compound. What President Zuma did not say was that his family could hardly be said to have paid for the full cost of his Nkandla home. As judge Hillary Squires found when he convicted Schabir Shaik of fraud and corruption, several other sources initially bankrolled the Nkandla building project. Squires pointed out that in 2000, as a certain Mr. Malengret was undertaking work at Nkandla, payments to the builders:
“…came in odd sums and from odd sources. On 14 August 2000 two cheques drawn by a Nelspruit business, which turned out to be owned by Mrs Ngubane, and totalling R90,000, together with a cash payment in the sum of R10,000, was deposited into Malengret’s bank account. That was the first payment he received. On 4 October another cheque for R40,000, drawn by the same Nelspruit enterprise, and on 18 October some unidentified person made a cash deposit of R50,000, again both being made into Malengret’s bank account. So by 5 October, when the next incident involving Shaik occurred, Malengret had done about R226,000 worth of construction, for which he had only received R140,000…”
There is therefore a long history of others paying for building work at Nkandla. However, before Zuma became president, the South African public never carried the cost for the various upgrades at Nkandla. In October of that year, Shaik learnt of the Nkandla project from Zuma himself. Squires noted that back in 2000, Shaik seemed to have been dismayed, if not shocked, when informed about the cost of the Nkandla project (maybe that is the source of Shaik’s terminal illness), asking Malengret if “Zuma (thought) money grew on trees”. For President Zuma, so it seems, money has always grown on trees — other people’s trees.
Back in 2000, when no more money was paid to him for work done at Nkandla, Malengret ordered building at Nkandla to be stopped. As the arms deal inquiry gained steam and as arms companies began to squirm under the pressure, Mr. Vivian Reddy, a Durban-based businessman, who also seems to have taken on the task of advising Jacob Zuma about his financial affairs, lent Malengret R50,000 to enable him to continue with the Nkandla project. A bond financed part of the rest of the cost of the initial Nkandla building project.
But, as Squires found, part of the cost was paid by an entity called Development Africa, in which the first part of a R500,000-a-year bribe from Thomson (the arms deal company) was deposited. Squires found that Thomson had corruptly offered (the offer having been communicated to Shaik) to give a bribe of R500,000 a year, which was not legally due, to Jacob Zuma (who was by then the deputy president), with the understanding that Zuma would use his position as deputy president to assist Thomson and protect it from exposure for its part in arms deal corruption.
As Zuma has managed to avoid standing trial for his involvement in this scandal, we do not know if there is enough evidence to convict him for being party to the bribe. In the event, Thomson only paid R250,000 of this money into an entity called Development Africa, which eventually paid for part of the building of the Nkandla home.
Thompson, Reddy and Ngubane, who all contributed to the building of the original Nkandla compound, are not members of President Zuma’s family. President Zuma’s claim that his family carried the entire cost for the building of Nkandla can therefore not be true. In fact, part of the cost for the original Nkandla building came from an arms deal bribe.
Incidentally, Judge Squires had found that Zuma had been in contact with Mr Alain Thetard, a representative of Thomson, at a meeting where the bribe was discussed. Zuma had to give a secret code (given to him by Shaik) to signal his agreement with the bribe arrangement, which he duly did. In response to a Parliamentary question by Raenette Taljaard, Zuma told Parliament: “I did not meet Alain Thetard on 11 March 2000 in Durban or elsewhere.”
As Squires had found, Zuma had indeed met Alain Thetard – but on 10 March 2000, not on 11 March of that year. In his sworn affidavit to the Pretoria High Court in August 2003 (made during his application to secure Thetard’s encrypted fax which is said to prove he solicited a bribe from Thetard) Zuma claimed even more emphatically about this meeting with Thetard: “I have repeatedly stated that I did not attend any such meeting.” Zuma was never charged with perjury, which (if the Squires judgment is to be believed) he committed when he denied in a sworn statement that he had ever met Mr. Thetard.
It might well be that President Zuma was completely candid when he claimed this week that his family contributed to the cost of the latest Nkandla upgrade. Such a contribution could have come from his salary, from a bank loan or from donations made by benefactors hoping to gain some influence with the president of the ANC and the country. Unfortunately, we simply do not know what is true, as President Zuma has not provided any evidence to back up his claims. This uncertainty could easily be remedied if Zuma were prepared to take the country into his confidence by providing documentary proof of such payments.
In the absence of such proof (and in the light of the secrecy around the state’s R250 million contribution to the latest Nkandla upgrade), it is impossible to say whether the latest claim is true or whether its veracity is on par with his previous claims that he never attended a meeting with Thetard. What is certain is that neither President Zuma nor his family can be said to have carried the cost for all the building work at Nkandla.
There are still many unanswered questions about the latest Nkandla corruption scandal. If Zuma is indeed the president of the country, why did he not stop the R250 million “security upgrade” at his house? Can security officials order the president what to do and what not to do? Is he so weak or unprincipled that he is incapable or unwilling to do what is right and legal? How on earth is it possible to spend R250 million on “security upgrades” when that money could build at least two or three palaces with gold fittings and marble floors?
These questions could easily be answered. All that is needed is for the government to stop hiding behind a draconian piece of Apartheid-era security legislation called the National Key Points Act. It would then be able to provide us with the exact breakdown of cost contributed by taxpayers to the Nkandla home and what it was spent on. Given the fact that we already know that money was used to build a bunker, and install bulletproof windows, a lift and air conditioning as well as a gym, an astro-turf soccer pitch, a hospital and two helicopter pads, there is no conceivable reason not to reveal how much was paid by whom for these luxuries. We already know what “security” measures were taken; we just do not know how much money (which could have been used to build new school libraries or pay for essential health care facilities) was wasted on each item.
Even if security were indeed a concern (which is a ludicrous claim), no one has ever been able to show how security could be compromised by revealing how much South Africans paid for all these “security upgrades”, which we already know exist.
Unless, of course, what is being protected is not the security of the president and his family, but rather the ever-diminishing reputation of the president and the political party he fronts, if not leads. DM
- Uganda: why quiet diplomacy is a devastating betrayal of gay men and lesbians on the continent
- All hail independent thought
- Pistorius on TV: The public's interest vs. the public interest
- In the age of consent, the buck stops with Number One
- DA vs. ANC: The importance of political tolerance
- Campaign fever: the ground rules
- Let’s talk about freedom of speech
- DAgang's divorce: The finer sticking points
- Challenging IPID’s appointment: Always a bridesmaid, never a McBride
- Democratic internal party processes? Hmmm, unlikely.
- Why redress measures are not racist
- News flash, folks: discrimination IS illegal
- Water is life, but the struggle for it is deadly
- Changing the Constitution: much ado about nothing
- Mandela legacy: Reconciliation – a process, not a once-off event
- To call Mandela a saint is to dishonour his memory
- Love me tender: Why ‘it’s complicated’ applies to corrupt private tender processes too
- Nkandla report - the incontrovertible facts no smokescreens can cover
- The colonial roots of conferring silk on advocates
- Structural racism: the invisible evil
- E-toll civil disobedience reveals lack of respect for democracy
- We recognise sex and gender as classifications, so why not race?
- Nkandla Report blackout: It is all about PW Botha's law
- Elections are coming: Can we have some substance, please?
- The JSC: It’s not all bad, and here’s why
- The remembrance and forgetting of things past
- Nkandla: Untangling that rather sticky web
- Employment equity: the trick is in how it’s implemented
- Justice: that elusive prize, and how to get it
- Elections: The tightrope of fairness
- Teen sex: The law can’t replace parenting
- The Hlophe conundrum, revisited
- Khayelitsha policing: among the shambles and turf wars, it’s the residents who suffer
- Media freedom is a right that benefits all
- Attempts to discredit Madonsela could backfire
- The Mdluli matter: Nxasana’s first big test
- Sparing the rod: what it really entails
- Secrecy Bill: a touch more confusion, and a glimmer of hope
- Zuma's Secrecy Bill move: The Darker Side
- Hoffman’s complaint: why it was bound to fail
- Freedom of expression – and the quest for living meaningfully
- When a joke is not a joke
- The bad news: Qwelane’s constitutional challenge might just work
- Restoring the Electoral Commission: What happens next?
- A vote of no confidence is not to be taken lightly, by majority or minority
- The murky marriage of money and politics
- FF+ vs. EFF: doomed to fail
- Spy Tapes: A clear and simple case
- Hell is other people (trolling the Internet)
- Colour me irrational
- Women’s day – just another day for men to call the shots
- Arms Deal Commission: It’s the moment to make or break
- Marikana Commission: More questions than answers
- The court of individual identity
- Pius Langa: A man who knew the meaning of change
- Dear Film and Publications Board, please review your own rules
- Animal antics, and the separation of powers doctrine
- Hypocrisy fit for a king
- Take care with those ‘insults’
- ‘Top secret’ Nkandla report: On the highway to embarrassment
- Traditional leadership: Cat can look at a king
- Equal Education: The Minister doth protest too much
- Willing buyer, willing seller works… If you have a lifetime to wait
- Polygyny: Our human rights half-job
- Trial by media? Actually, that’s impossible
- Pistorius: The horror of a broken (white) body
- Oh what a tangled legal quagmire... when first we practise an NDPP to hire?
- Breytenbach: too little fear, favour and prejudice?
- The curious case of the pastor punished for honesty
- What’s that smell? Must be the name droppings.
- KZN University: A storm in a (Zulu) teacup
- Nkandla: The details will, and should, be made public
- Great speech vs. hate speech: how it really works
- Cape Town evictions: Brutal, inhumane, and totally unlawful
- The new, tamer Secrecy Bill: Still not constitutional
- Zuma and the Guptas: the ‘symbiosis’ continues
- Discrimination is illegal. When will we learn this?
- It’s not a democracy if our children aren’t equal
- An upside-down world: What would happen if we cared about the ‘others’?
- JSC: Let’s inject some common sense, shall we?
- Rose-tinted amnesia: The struggle to ‘rebrand’ SA’s Apartheid past
- Cardinal Napier: the plot thickens
- Redefining ‘merit’: first task for a transformed JSC
- The dating race
- Putting the ‘dread’ into ‘dreadlocks’
- Liars, damn liars, and the SA government
- Constitution clear on troops in the CAR: Zuma must talk to Parliament
- SA in CAR: the questions that remain
- Why are South African soldiers dying in CAR?
- Covering up sexual abuse is a crime, Cardinal
- Nkandla: Oh, what a tangled web we weave…
- The education MEC, children's heads, and a knobkerrie
- In black and white: the truth about ‘unconstitutional’ race quotas in universities
- Losing battles: Why the FMF doesn’t stand a chance
- Democracy vs. traditional leadership: the delicate ballet
- Police brutality comes as a surprise? Really?
- Sometimes a Tweeter is just a Twit
- Lady Justice’s scales appear to be faulty
- Pistorius trial: The legal principles that will decide the case
- Oscar Pistorius case: Bail isn’t denied as easily as you think
- Public opinion: Is there really any danger of prejudice against Oscar?
- All we know is that a woman is dead
- The secret history: Unearthing the mysterious Presidential Manual
- Sexwale abuse allegations: Very much our business
- SA’s rape epidemic: The limitations of outrage
- Will the real freedom of expression please stand up?
- But what of the people of Khayelitsha?
- WWE Smackdown: Zille vs. TNA edition
- Nkandla: Everything that's wrong with the Zuma government
- Nkandla: The spinning, mincing, dicing - and the report we're not allowed to read
- Beyond all (t)reason
- Judicial transformation: South Africa's appalling non-commitment
- The criminal stupidity of criminalising teen sex
- Careful, Mr Mthembu: The re-emergence of Apartheid's 'volksvreemdes' mentality
- Unequal education: the problem with providing learning for all
- SA troops in CAR: Why we should all be worried
- Mulholland column: Ignorance squared is still ignorance
- Elective processes: Something is rotten in the kingdom of the ANC
- Outa application: Courts can't fix political processes
- Chaskalson, SACP and the Constitution: Don’t touch me on my liberalism
- Carlisle and car key confiscation: Don't go with the (traffic) flow
- Dear Contralesa, please approach your nearest healer for a diagnosis
- Simelane: You can't end what never truly began
- Playing by the rules: The balancing act of Judge Dennis Davis
- Sunlight is the best disinfectant
- Lenasia: The haunting abandonment of humanity
- Lies, damn lies, and Zuma's 'bond'
- Show us the money, Mr Zuma
- The opposition doth protest too much: Why the ANC is hellbent on crushing debate
- Note to Zuma: Try commanding respect, not demanding it
- Dear Nxesi, your fantasy is damaging South Africa’s reality
- Running the Gauntlett: Why the struggle for appointment?
- Affirmative action: a decidedly middle-class problem
- Hate crime: there is no such thing as an excuse - ever
- Mfeketo and Zuma: You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours?
- Ramaphosa: Where does corruption begin and end?
- The Zuma recordings: SA is the crayfish, corruption the boiling water
- No safety in numbers: Why a bigger opposition isn't a stronger opposition
- Specs, lies and audiotape - the hidden Zuma recordings
- The ANC on school closures: can they win?
- Thuli Madonsela: The difference between 'unpopularity' and 'misconduct'
- Democracy: it starts in Parliament
- The National Key Points Act: not just unconstitutional, but totally invalid
- Simelane and 'rational' thought
- Halt the witch-hunt, Minister
- Home is where the taxpayer's money is
- Will Malema's case stand up in court?
- South Africa's Striking Miners: A Menace to Society? Or just to the middle class?
- E-tolling judgement: Sorry for Gauteng, but it's perfectly lawful
- Silence is golden - if the speakers are criticising the State
- Malema at the SANDF: Inappropriate? Yes. Illegal? No.
- Freedom of religion: not so free after all
- Whites against Woolworths: doth they protest too much?
- From the NPA with fear, favour - and prejudice
- Marikana murder charge withdrawal: the first glimmer of sanity
- Abuse, Inc: The 'miners made us do it' murder charge
- A marriage made in hell
- Lonmin's Farlam Commission: not bad, not bad at all
- Marikana: Avoidable, unconstitutional… and entirely predictable