CAPE TOWN – President Jacob Zuma has complied with a Constitutional Court order and repaid the State R7.8 million for luxuries added to his private home at Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal, his office confirmed on Monday, noting that he financed the repayment through a bank loan.
“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,” the presidency said.
“The President raised the amount through a home loan obtained from VBS Mutual Bank on its standard terms, one of the few financial institutions which offer home loans in respect of land owned by traditional authorities,” it added, referring to the fact that his rural retreat stands on land owned by the Ingonyama Trust.
National Treasury separately confirmed that Zuma had transferred the sum it calculated as a reasonable portion of the roughly R216 million spent upgrading security at his home in one of the longest-running scandals of his presidency.
The final calculation was made public in June and confirmed as an order of the Constitutional Court, which had earlier found that Zuma failed to uphold the Constitution by flouting Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s directive that be refund the State because he had unduly benefited from non-security items included in the project.
These famously included a swimming pool, cattle kraal, chicken run, amphitheatre and visitors’ centre, which the police ministry and Parliament sought to cast as legitimate public expenditure by claiming that each item doubled up as a vital security measure.
Zuma’s repayment comes a day before he is due to answer questions from MPs in the National Assembly where he has routinely been prevented from speaking by the Economic Freedom Fighters, with each appearance marked by heckling that he “pay back the money”.
The EFF is likely to claim the fact as a political victory on Tuesday, as it was the party who directly approached the Constitutional Court to force him to implement Madonsela’s finding.
But Tuesday will also see MPs demand answers from the increasingly embattled president on a perceived tussle between himself and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan over control of state spending.
Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane is due to ask Zuma about the controversial decision by Cabinet last month to give him oversight over state-owned enterprises, which has widely been read as an attempt by the president to have the final word over projects, such as the country’s nuclear build ambitions, that have come under critical scrutiny from the finance ministry.
“In light of the fact that there is already an inter-ministerial committee on state-owned entities, which has been chaired by the Deputy President, Mr MC Ramaphosa, since December 2014, how will the Presidential State-Owned Companies Coordinating Council interact with this body?” reads the question he will put to Zuma.
Maimane said the DA welcomed the repayment on Nkandla, but said the amount was the “tip of the iceberg” in terms of money wasted on the project. He urged Zuma to supply Parliament with proof that he has taken out a bank loan to finance the payment.
“It is important that the President provides proof to the National Assembly, which he is accountable to, that he personally paid the R7.8 million, and that the VBS Mutual Bank is not a front. The President has a history of tapping into his circle of cronies for funds.”