KPMG report shines a light on South African president's lavish lifestyle

Sat, Dec 8, 2012, 00:00

South African president Jacob Zuma has been financially dependent on a range of high-profile patrons over the years to pay for his increasingly lavish lifestyle, a forensic report prepared for his side-lined 2009 corruption trial alleges.

Published yesterday by the Mail Guardian newspaper, the forensic investigation prepared by auditors KPMG in 2006 lifts the lid on Zuma’s financial affairs, and outlines in detail his benefactors, who include former president Nelson Mandela, and the sums of money they gave him.

The report is based on documents seized from Mr Zuma, his former financial adviser Schabir Shaik and others by police and the National Prosecution Authority investigators. The authority was preparing a corruption case against the president that was withdrawn days before he took office in 2009.

The weekly publication maintains the report’s findings “paint the most detailed and distressing picture available of a kept politician, not just unable, but unwilling to live within his means, dependent on an array of benefactors to fund his lifestyle and willing to grant some of them favours in return”.

The allegations could not have come at a worse time for Mr Zuma, who is favourite to be re-elected president of the African National Congress at the ruling party’s elective conference later this month.

Shaik, Zuma’s so-called adviser, was jailed in 2005 for 10 years after he was found guilty of corruption and fraud, and the presiding judge in the case found his relationship with South Africa’s then deputy president to be generally corrupt.

KPMG says that between 1995 and 2005 Zuma received over R4m (€360,000) in payments from Mr Shaik and his companies. Mr Shaik was released from prison on medical parole in 2009, months after Mr Zuma became president.

Mr Mandela, the investigators show, appeared to go to Zuma’s financial rescue on June 23 2005, giving him R1 million days after he had been fired by then president Thabo Mbeki and charged with corruption. Before getting the cheque, Zuma’s accounts were R421,000 (€35,813) overdrawn.

KPMG asserted that Mr Zuma benefited from other donors, including a range of businessmen and two arms companies, to the tune of at least another R3m (€267,000).

The report shows how Mr Zuma’s financial affairs became increasingly dysfunctional over the years, and that he needed more and more cash to support his lifestyle and pay his debts.