President Jacob Zuma's Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
President Jacob Zuma's Nkandla homestead in KwaZulu-Natal. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

Former president Jacob Zuma will fight to keep his Nkandla home despite defaulting on a multimillion-rand loan he received from VBS Mutual Bank to pay back the state for upgrades.

Zuma has filed a notice of intention to defend a summons filed by the bank’s liquidator to have him pay back the more than R7.3m loan.

However, he missed the deadline to file his plea. If a defendant fails to timeously file his plea, the plaintiff is entitled to apply to court for default judgment.

According to the summons filed by VBS’s liquidator in the high court in Pietermaritzburg, Zuma has been defaulting on the loan since August 2018 and now stands to lose the property.

The former president, who has said he is too poor to fund his numerous court cases, “failed to effect payment of the contemplated and agreed monthly instalments and is in breach of the provisions of the loan agreement” concluded with VBS Mutual Bank, the liquidator said in the court papers.

The bank collapsed in 2018 after a R2bn fraud by its directors was revealed.

All five of the bank’s executives have since been sequestrated after the scandal.

The story of how the bank was plundered has become known as the “Great Bank Heist”, with everybody from the bank’s executives to its auditors, municipal officials and politicians implicated.

VBS Mutual Bank, which was started as a mutual bank in the former Venda homeland, made national headlines in 2016 when it emerged that it had lent Zuma more than R7m, meant to pay back the state for the Nkandla upgrades. This followed a ruling by former public protector Thuli Madonsela that Zuma unduly benefited from state resources after the government had paid more than R200m for upgrades at his family home.

After his removal from office in February 2018 Zuma pleaded poverty, saying he could no longer pay his legal fees in his corruption case dating back to the arms deal of the 1990s. This was after the high court in Pretoria said he was not entitled to state funds to fight a personal legal battle that had nothing to do with his official duties.

Earlier in 2018 he went as far as to tell his supporters outside court that he had to sell items of clothing to raise money for legal fees.

Zuma has since lost his permanent stay of prosecution application but is appealing it.

The corruption case, relating to the multibillion-rand arms deal, has been postponed to 2020.

quintalg@businesslive.co.za