Who’s footing Zuma’s R7.8m Nkandla bill? What of fringe benefits tax?

Just how much is enough? The Public Protector office pegged the costs for non-security Nkandla upgrades at around R10 million, so National Treasury and its team of experts weren’t far off. And while the amount and actions that led us here will be debated into the night, the outcome has to be seen as a small win for South Africa’s Democracy. But the big question is how will President Jacob Zuma pay back the money? And if he can’t do it personally, who will he call? Money should never come between friends and the Gupta connection may be tested while the Friends of Jacob Zuma Trust’s Don Mkhwanazi has already given him assurances of support, and they’ve previously helped the President. Other names that were thrown into the hat in March were Durban businessmen Vivian Reddy and Greytown’s Philani Mavundla. President Zuma’s office will still comment on the findings and will have 45 days to make the payment once approved by the courts. But loyalty to the flawed sometimes carries a huge price. And will National Treasury do anything to ensure SARS gets Zuma to pay fringe benefits tax– Stuart Lowman

by Amogelang Mbatha and Mike Cohen

(Bloomberg) — South African President Jacob Zuma should refund taxpayers about 7.81 million rand ($510,000) that was spent on upgrading his private rural home, the National Treasury said.

The Constitutional Court ruled March 31 that Zuma “failed to uphold, defend and respect the constitution” when he refused to abide by Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s directive to repay some of the 215.9 million rand spent on renovating his home at Nkandla, in the eastern KwaZulu-Natal province. The court ordered the Treasury to determine the extent of the president’s liability for non-security-related features, including a swimming pool and cattle enclosure, within 60 work days.

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Two firms of quantity surveyors were used to help determine a reasonable cost of the upgrades and what percentage should be paid by the president, the National Treasury said in the report filed with the court on Monday.

The Presidency received a copy of the report and will comment after studying it, Zuma’s office said in an e-mailed statement.

“Of course the amount that he’s going to be required to pay is not going to match the extent to which the state is out of pocket,” Daryl Glaser, a politics professor at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, said by phone. “But symbolically, its very important that the Public Protector should have been seen to get her way and that her recommendation should have been taken seriously and enforced. Provisionally, it is a victory for democracy.”

Corruption Charges

Zuma, 74, has 45 days to make payment once the proposal is approved by the court. While the president apologized for the frustration and confusion the scandal had caused, he said he never intentionally did anything illegal. The costs also relate to payments for structures including an amphitheater, visitors’ center and a chicken run.

Zuma, a former intelligence operative who’s ruled Africa’s most-industrialized economy since May 2009, has been implicated in a succession of other scandals. Prosecutors spent eight years probing allegations that he took 4.07 million rand in bribes from arms dealers and brought 783 charges of fraud, corruption and racketeering against him. On June 24, the High Court denied the National Prosecuting Authority permission to appeal a finding that it erred when it decided to drop the case against him just weeks before he became president, opening the way for the charges to be reinstated.

While pressure on Zuma will ease once he pays back the money, it won’t disappear, Glaser said.

“People can argue that he didn’t do what he should have done in moral and constitutional terms,” Glaser said. “There will be continued pressure on him and on parliament to impeach him on the grounds of past behavior. The story has now gone beyond simply the question of whether Zuma pays back some of the money. It’s become a story about the integrity and credibility of Jacob Zuma as president.”

South African Treasury: Zuma should repay $510,000 for upgrades to private residence

JOHANNESBURG, June 27 (Reuters) – South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma should pay 7.8 million rand ($510,074) for non-security upgrades to his private Nkandla home, the National Treasury said on Monday.

In a stinging rebuke that hit the scandal-plagued leader financially and politically, the top court in Africa’s most industrialised country in March ordered Zuma to pay back some of the $16 million of state money spent upgrading his private home.

Record unemployment and a looming recession have exacerbated discontent with Zuma’s leadership, ahead of local elections in August. Zuma has managed to hold on to his post with backing from the ruling African National Congress (ANC), which has been in power since the end of white-minority rule in 1994.

The court gave the Treasury 60 days to work out a “reasonable cost”. Zuma has said he would pay back some of the money used to refurbish the Nkandla residence, which is in KwaZulu-Natal province.

On Monday Zuma’s office said it would comment on the Treasury report after studying it.

In 2014, Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, whose office is a constitutionally mandated anti-corruption watchdog, identified a swimming pool, cattle enclosure, chicken run, amphitheatre and visitor centre as non-security items that Zuma must pay for.

Estimates from Madonsela’s report had pegged the bill at around 10 million rand.

The unanimous ruling of the 11-judge Constitutional Court also said Zuma had failed to “uphold, defend and respect” the constitution by ignoring Madonsela’s recommendations.

In April, Zuma survived an impeachment vote in parliament after the court’s ruling thanks to backing from ANC lawmakers. In December he was widely criticised for changing his finance minister twice in a week, sending the rand plummeting.

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