While Jacob Zuma Lived the High Life, Other People Were Picking Up the Tab
Durban: Deputy President Jacob Zuma lived way beyond his means - but seemed to accept that other people would pay his debts.
This was one of the conclusions forensic auditor Johan van der Walt reached yesterday as he wrapped up his evidence about Zuma's financial position.
If Zuma were to have repaid loans from Durban businessman Schabir Shaik and other debts with interest, his salary would not have been enough to cover the interest, Van der Walt told the high court here.
Shaik has pleaded not guilty to corruption and fraud. The state alleges he cultivated a "general corrupt relationship" with Zuma by paying about R1.2 million to him or to others on his behalf in exchange for the use of his name and influence in the scramble for government contracts.
Van der Walt reiterated his observation, made in court earlier this week, that Shaik's role as financial adviser to Zuma had done nothing to improve the deputy president's financial position.
He said that from July 1996 to December 2003, Zuma received R3.8m from various sources, including his salary, and had spent R4.2m. Added to this, Shaik and the Nkobi group had paid R1.2m in expenses for him.
Van der Walt also found 140 unpaid debit orders and around R447 000 in cheques sent back by Zuma's bankers.
He explained in his report that Zuma had been in trouble with some commercial banks:
Permanent Bank: a bond for a flat in Berea, Durban, was registered at this bank. At one stage Zuma had missed 20 bond repayments and letters of demand were issued. In July 2000, the bond was paid by three deposits from unknown third parties.
Standard Bank: in May 1995, Zuma was granted a home loan for R400 000 to buy a house in Killarney Wilds, through Michigan Investments cc. In February 1997, Standard Bank wrote to Shaik about Zuma's accounts.
Shaik paid the outstanding amount of R30 000 and R40 000 into Zuma's overdraft.
Shaik and the companies that had paid this money were in overdraft as well.
In May 1997, the bank wrote to Shaik, saying that although it appreciated his efforts, it could not allow the situation to continue.
The bank then demanded R120 000 from Zuma, cancelled his credit card and asked him to return the card to the bank.
Shaik tried intervening, but thenthe cheques were not cleared by his bank and Standard Bank took judgment against Zuma.
Settlement talks and more legal action ensued.
Van der Walt said that Zuma still owed Standard Bank R386 637.39.
Wesbank: In June 1997 Zuma bought a Mercedes-Benz E320 for R305 000. The bank did not honour his first payment on the car. Subsequent payments were made by Zuma and some by one of Shaik's companies, Kobitech.
When Zuma fell into arrears again, to the tune of R33 000, Kobitech paid more money to Wesbank.
In March 2000, Zuma sold the car to Kobifin, another of Shaik's companies and Shaik had it refinanced.
Wesbank's account has not been settled. It is owed R71 777.58 and, according to Van der Walt, there is a note on the account saying that the way the account had been conducted was "bad".
In May 2001, Wesbank financed a Mitsubishi Pajero for Zuma.
Van der Walt said it is not clear why Wesbank had agreed to conclude another deal with Zuma as this was shortly after the Mercedes-Benz episode.
On December 16, 2003, Zuma owed R355 543 on the car, of which R129 000 was in arrears.
Absa: in August 1999, Shaik was informed by Absa that Zuma's account was R16 000 overdrawn and that his credit card was over the limit.
In July 2000, Zuma's overdraft stood at R105 786.
"Absa also indicated that the conduct of Zuma's account was unacceptable," Van der Walt said.
Nedbank: On June, 2001, Nedbank informed Shaik that the balance of Zuma's account was in overdraft by about R109 000 and that they had returned debit orders to Mercedes-Benz Finance and American Express because of the lack of funds.
Zuma, who was also in trouble with AQ Holdings, which at one stage threatened to sequestrate him, had to be helped when he did not pay his rent.
The trial continues today.
With acknowledgements to Estelle Ellis and the Cape Times.