FNB closes Zuma’s bank accounts into which VBS loan was deposited

First National Bank (FNB) has issued a notice to terminate former president Jacob Zuma’s bank accounts in which his R7.8-million VBS loan was deposited, according to six independent sources.

Zuma, whose JG Zuma Foundation this week declined to comment, confirmed in a phone call with one of his associates that FNB had served him with the correspondence.

Ordinarily, the banks would give the affected client a timeframe to find alternative banking arrangements.

Sunday World learnt that the notice to terminate Zuma’s banking facilities, through which he received his monthly salary and other government benefits as a former president, was issued last month “because he is politically exposed”.

One of Zuma’s lawyers, who asked not to be named because he did not have instructions to discuss the matter, alleged FNB “closed Zuma’s accounts as part of a well-orchestrated campaign to continue harassing him”.

“In its letters, the bank claims it was closing the accounts because that’s where the VBS loan was paid into, but this was an officially applied-for loan in 2016 and not a bribe.

“And now they decide to close my client’s account in 2024, less than three months after he launched a new political party. Is that a coincidence?”

FNB failed to answer four questions sent to it. “Due to client confidentiality, FNB cannot comment on specific bank accounts,” the bank said.

The lawyer said the bank claimed, “Zuma has been politically exposed but they can’t prove any crime he has committed or show any irregular transactions on his accounts”.

A Zuma confidant said that the latest developments “are clear indications that banks in this country are a law unto themselves.

“Banks in this country can wake up one morning and close your accounts without any recourse because someone powerful has whispered something into their ears.

“Banks in this country have been weaponised and the closing of Zuma’s accounts is a clear indication that banks in this country are a law unto themselves,” he said.

Another Zuma ally questioned why the bank did not close the former president’s account at the height of the Guptas scandal – the influential family from India who were close to Zuma. This after they allegedly siphoned billions of rands out of the country, using their close proximity to him.

“We are told that the Guptas used their close proximity to Zuma to milk our government and stole billions of rands, but at the time of the scandal, Zuma’s account wasn’t closed. 

“But hardly three months after Zuma formed a new political party, his bank account is closed,” he said.

He added that even when Zuma was arrested and sent to jail in July 2021, which resulted in a wave of civil unrest during which 354 people were killed and shops across the country, mainly in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, were looted, Zuma‘s bank account wasn’t closed.

“Zuma was forced out of public office in 2018 when he was pressured to resign as president of the country, and the Guptas left South Africa in 2016. ”

When Zuma launched the MK Party in December last year, he claimed he was trying to rescue the ANC from its leadership. This includes his successor, Cyril Ramaphosa, whom he accused of being “corrupt and destroying the oldest liberation movement in Africa”.

Earlier this year the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) suspended Zuma’s membership in the party after he aligned with the MK Party and publicly encouraged people to vote the party out of power in the upcoming May 29 elections.

Zuma defied the NEC’s instruction for him to explain why his party membership shouldn’t be cancelled, and why he should not be expelled from the organisation he served for more than 40 years in different positions.

MK Party spokesperson, Nhlamulo Ndlhela, yesterday confirmed that Zuma’s bank accounts were indeed closed by FNB.

“It is clear that the ANC of Ramaphosa is leveraging on its white monopoly capital relationship to punitively and aggressively defame, dehumanise and destabilise former President Zuma and MK Party using all economic levers at their disposal. They will stop at nothing. It is a further confirmation that we need to change this constitution that allows banks in this country to do as they please,” said Ndlhela.

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