Jacob Zuma looked down and out. He had just been fired as deputy president of South Africa, his financial adviser had been convicted of fraud and corruption and now Zuma himself was facing charges. In a month from hell, he was also mired in debt.
Rescue came in the shape of Nelson Mandela, who bailed out Zuma with a cheque for 1m rand (then worth about £80,000). It was June 2005. Two years later Zuma came back from the political dead to beat Thabo Mbeki for the presidency of the governing African National Congress (ANC).
Mandela’s surprise intervention was revealed in an audit published by South Africa’s Mail & Guardian newspaper on Friday. The 500-page report by KPMG (pdf) offered a glimpse of the dynamics between the three men who have dominated the country’s political landscape since the end of racial apartheid in 1994.
It also added to the pressure on Zuma’s beleaguered presidency, with the opposition calling on him to step down after the report painted him as a reckless big spender dependent on benefactors who funded him to the tune of R7m.
Chief among them was Zuma’s former financial adviser Schabir Shaik, who made 783 payments totalling R4m. Shaik was convicted of corruption and fraud in June 2005, prompting Zuma’s dismissal two weeks later. The payments continued during Shaik’s trial and even for a short time after his conviction until he resigned as Zuma’s adviser, the audit shows.
It was such shady associations, observers say, that persuaded Mandela to step in for the sake of both Zuma – a struggle comrade and fellow former Robben Island prisoner – and the reputation of the ANC. The KPMG report quotes from an internal bank memo from 1998 that apparently refers to Zuma having been disciplined by Mandela and the ANC treasurer over his financial affairs.
Mandela gave R2m to Zuma in 2000; half went to an educational charity, while the intention behind the other half remains ambiguous. Then came the R1m cheque on 23 June 2005, nine days after Zuma was sacked as deputy president and three days after prosecutors announced he would be charged with corruption. At the time Zuma was more than R400,000 overdrawn on his various bank accounts, the Mail & Guardian said.
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And to think that he still is running for the presidency.. shows he has no remorse.
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