The Mail & Guardian can reveal crucial evidence in the case against President Jacob Zuma - evidence that was kept hidden when the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) abandoned its prosecution of him.
The M&G is publishing the key findings of the confidential September 2006 forensic report that auditors KPMG prepared for Zuma’s trial.
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All the president's willing benefactors: Part one
All the president's willing benefactors: Part two
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The report exposes the president as a "kept politician" - a financial freeloader who accepted money and favours on a routine and increasingly extravagant basis not only from his so-called financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, but also from other benefactors, including Nelson Mandela.
Running to about 500 pages, the "draft" report - although it is understood to be the final version - is based on tens of thousands of documents Scorpions investigators had seized from Shaik, Zuma and others.
The report contains dramatic new disclosures including:
The KPMG report was prepared on the Scorpions’ instructions ahead of Zuma’s high court appearance in Pietermaritzburg in September 2006.
Prosecutors had applied for a postponement to formulate a new charge sheet based on additional material seized during the August 2005 raids that followed Shaik’s conviction - including, for the first time, raids on Zuma’s home and office.
They also asked for time to deal with Zuma’s challenge to the legality of those raids.
Judge Herbert Msimang refused the postponement and the case was struck from the roll without the report being tabled.
It remained hidden throughout the protracted legal battles that saw the NPA clear the path to prosecution and until April 7 2009 when the then acting national director of public prosecutions, Mokotedi Mpshe, buried it by deciding to abandon the case just days before the national election that propelled Zuma to the presidency.
Against the views of the prosecuting team, Mpshe ruled that Zuma’s rights to a fair trial had been poisoned by perceived meddling revealed in the so-called Zuma spy tapes.
Now the M&G’s disclosure of the wealth of evidence available to the prosecution deepens the controversy surrounding Mpshe’s decision. It also raises the stakes for the Democratic Alliance bid to have that decision reviewed.
Finally, it lays bare in excruciating detail the ongoing recklessness of Zuma’s financial relationships. Those relationships not only lay the basis for the current Nkandla scandal, but expose fundamental questions about Zuma’s fitness for office.
In the words of the report: "The financial position of Zuma deteriorated over time, mainly as a result of the fact of the shortage in daily funding required to fund his lifestyle ... Zuma’s cash requirements by far exceeded his ability to fund such requirements from his salary ...
"The predicament that Zuma found himself in from the early years did not result in reduced spending on his part. Shaik, as the claimed ‘financial adviser’, also did not reduce it. In fact, Shaik funded the shortfall … Spending continued …"
Sometimes this infuriated Shaik, such as in October 2000 when he ordered that construction cease on Nkandla's first phase.
Builder Eric Malengret told the Shaik trial that Shaik had exclaimed: "Does he [Zuma] think money grows on trees?"
But Zuma simply countermanded Shaik and told Malengret to carry on.
The report revives the spectre of the "mutually beneficial symbiosis" - the term Judge Hilary Squires used when he convicted Shaik in 2005.
Whatever struggle bonds Shaik shared with Zuma, the former could not fund Zuma’s spending from his own resources.
The report finds Shaik was able to fund no more than 13% of the funds that were made available to Zuma.
The balance had to be funded from the Nkobi group. This placed Shaik’s cash-starved companies under immense pressure.
KPMG says: "The general decline in the net cash resources for the group has a direct correlation with the amounts that we identified as having been paid for and on behalf of Zuma … As the cash balances of the Nkobi group decreased, the payments made for and on behalf of Zuma increased."
In return, Shaik made blatant and repeated use of his connection with Zuma. Says KPMG: "It is evident that at least Shaik considered the association with Zuma and his wider political connectivity as a key driver to the success of the business activities of the Nkobi group …
"We could not find any evidence in the documentation at our disposal of Shaik being advised or requested by Zuma not to engage in such activities, despite numerous examples indicating his [Shaik’s] approach."
Shaik is often presented as the arch-manipulator in the relationship, but the scale of the payments to Zuma and the extent of the pressure this outlay placed on Shaik and his companies emerges very clearly from the report, raising questions about who was really using whom.
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The M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism (amaBhungane) produced this story. All views are ours. See www.amabhungane.co.za for our stories, activities and funding sources.