An enigmatic but well-connected businessman has emerged as Jacob Zuma’s greatest known benefactor since his appointment as deputy president. Jurgen Kogl ”loaned” Zuma R656 000, more even than Schabir Shaik.
Debate raged in Parliament’s ethics committee this week as to whether substantial payments to Zuma – totalling R1,52-million since 1999 – were ”loans”, as he insists. The Mail & Guardian has been able to assemble details of some of his financial liabilities and the extent to which individual business people have been willing to help meet them.
Much has been written about the relationship between Zuma and Shaik, the arms deal businessman who also describes himself as Zuma’s financial adviser. Less is known about Kogl, a broker, analyst and investor originally from Namibia.
Kogl has been close to a number of politicians, including President Thabo Mbeki, who stayed in his Hillbrow, Johannesburg, flat after returning from exile in 1990.
Kogl, alongside his friend Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert, the former opposition leader, played a crucial role in facilitating a deal between the right wing and the African National Congress before 1994 to avert bloodshed.
Kogl is known to have acted, like Shaik, as Zuma’s financial adviser. He said this week that his relationship with Zuma, Mbeki and the ANC was a long-standing one, in the case of the party stretching back long before 1990.
”There is nothing sinister about these relationships. What happens is that you provide support and find ways of making sure these guys are able to get on with negotiations or with governing the country,” he said.
The probe by Parliament’s ethics committee, which on Tuesday postponed its proceedings for a second time after it failed to reach consensus on a recommendation to exonerate Zuma, is based on a dossier forwarded to Parliament by National Director of Public Prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka.
The dossier, compiled from information gleaned during the arms deal investigation, contains details of transfers to or on behalf of Zuma. After a preliminary investigation Fazela Mahomed, the registrar of the parliamentary committee, recommended to members that Zuma be cleared.
This was based on Mahomed apparently accepting assurances that the payments were interest-bearing loans, meaning Zuma had been under no obligation to declare them as ”benefits” in the register of MPs’ interests.
The committee operates behind closed doors, but it was reported this week that there are discrepancies in explanations that have reached the committee, raising further doubts in some members’ minds whether the payments were indeed loans. The committee has demanded further documentation and is to reconvene next Friday.
The M&G has assembled evidence that Ngcuka’s dossier lists the following payments to or on behalf of the deputy president:
- On June 17 1999 – a day after Mbeki was inaugurated as president and Zuma elevated to national politics as his deputy -Kogl’s company Cay Nominees transferred R50 000 to the bond account of a flat Zuma owned. In August and October 2001Kogl paid another R600 000 and R6 000 into the same account. Kogl’s total: R656 000.
- Between June 1999 and September last year, controversial businessman Shaik paid a cumulative total of R625 000 in a large range of expenses on behalf of Zuma. (The total amount Shaik has paid from the mid-1990s is over R1,1-million, but payments before June 17 1999 are not relevant to the ethics committee, as Zuma was not a national MP before then.)
- In March 2000 Mpumalanga businesswoman Nora Fakude-Nkuna paid R34 000 to settle architectsÃ¢â‚¬™ fees in respect of ZumaÃ¢â‚¬™s traditional estate at Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal. In August and October that year she paid another R100 000 and R40 000 to Eric Malengret, who did construction work for Zuma at Nkandla. Fakude-Nkuna’s total: about R175 000.
- Between January and May this year, Durban businessman Vivien Reddy paid five monthly instalments of R12 000-plus each on Zuma’s Nkandla estate bond. Total: more than R60 000.
- Since June 1999, these benefactors have helped Zuma out to the tune of about R1,52-million. Zuma is understood not to substantially dispute the facts of the tranfers; but he argues that, far from having been corrupt payments or gifts, they were regular interest-bearing loans.
- The explanations have raised some eyebrows, though. Reasons for this include that the ”loan agreements” offered as proof were in some cases dated well after the transfers; it was not clear what security Zuma might have offered for such large loans; and explanations given, at least by Reddy and Fakude-Nkuna, to Ngcuka’s investigators allegedly contradicted explanations offered to the ethics committee.
- Further suggesting that these were not ordinary loans are the alleged terms.
- Kogl’s R656 000 is supposedly repayable after 10 years. Shaik’s multiple transfers are part of a ”revolving facility” of up to R2-million supposedly repayable next year.
- In neither case were the loans to be serviced in the interim, it seems.
- Perhaps the greatest question is how, since Zuma has clearly been unable to make ends meet to date, Kogl, Shaik, Fakude-Nkuna or Reddy could have had any legitimate expectation that Zuma would be able to settle the ”loans” when they become due.
- Zuma’s financial liabilities are hefty, partly because he has a large traditional family. Since the early 1990s, property transactions seem to have increased the burden.
These transactions include:
- In July 1991 Zuma and his then-wife Nkosazana, now Foreign Affairs Minister, bought a sectional title unit in Durban for R180 000, then a substantial amount of money for a couple who had recently returned from exile. It appears it took time to obtain financing, as a R150 000 Standard Bank bond was only registered in 2002. Zuma and his ex-wife still own the property.
- In March 1993 Jacob and Nkosazana Zuma bought a double flat in Berea, Johannesburg, for R80 000. The Zumas had great trouble finding finance, meaning registration was delayed for a year and the sale almost fell through, insiders say. Nedcor eventually extended a full bond. The Zumas still co-own the property.
- In 1994 or early 1995 Zuma bought a large, upmarket apartment in Killarney, Johannesburg. The exact date is not apparent as Zuma has neglected to transfer the close corporation to which the apartment is registered into his own name. The price tag was over R400 000, and, by the account of individuals close to the transaction, Zuma again struggled to obtain finance. The process dragged on for almost a year until Standard Bank extended a R400 000 bond. Zuma still owns the apartment, which was for a long time the residence of another of his wives, Kate Zuma. She died of a drug overdose in 2000. This is the property over which Kogl bailed Zuma out. It is understood that Zuma did not service the bond until Standard Bank took legal action. Kogl’s R656 000 settled the entire debt, which included significant interest above the original R400 000.
- Between 1997 and 1999 Zuma had the use of an upmarket apartment in Durban North, organised by Schabir Shaik. Shaik paid the rent, which was R3 500, and later R4 000, a month. This forms part of Shaik’s ”loan” to Zuma.
- In 2000 construction started on Zuma’s traditional Nkandla estate in rural KwaZulu-Natal. The draft charge sheet in the corruption trial against Shaik puts the contracted amount at R2,4-million, later reduced to about R1,3-million. Zuma obtained a R900 000 bond in December 2002 – for which Reddy stood surety. It is this bond which Reddy helped pay this year.