State institutions bent over backwards to finance the woman who bought President Jacob Zuma his private Johannesburg ­residence, a Mail & Guardian investigation reveals. Sizani Dlamini-Dubazana, now an MP, bought the R3,6‑million Forest Town home for Zuma's use when he was sacked as deputy president in 2005. The Zuma family still uses it. Dlamini-Dubazana has benefited from highly questionable multimillion-rand transactions funded by the taxpayer. She received more than R8‑million in loans from a KwaZulu-Natal development fund -- part of which may have funded the Forest Town home, although she denies this. She defaulted on repayment of the loans. When creditors closed in on her, government bought her KwaZulu-Natal game farm for land restitution. She stands to receive R6‑million -- more than double what she paid for it -- though neighbours were told there was no budget to buy their farms. Dlamini-Dubazana denies preferential treatment. Public funds may, therefore, have been used to support Zuma at a time when he was not in the state's employ. The question also arises whether he revealed all financial benefits in his belated declaration of interests last week. Dlamini-Dubazana declined to say whether Zuma paid market-related rent, telling the M&G last week that it was "very confidential". Dlamini-Dubazana was reportedly Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma's private secretary in the 1990s, when the latter was health minister and Zuma's wife. Since Zuma's election as ANC president, Dlamini-Dubazana's political star has risen dramatically -- she vaulted from being a Johannesburg regional ANC secretary in 2007 to the ANC KwaZulu-Natal executive in 2008. She topped the provincial-to-national nominations list in last year's elections and was elected an MP. Quick purchase When Thabo Mbeki fired Zuma as deputy president on June 14 2005, Zuma lost his right to state accommodation. Eight days later Dlamini-Dubazana signed an offer to purchase the Forest Town property on behalf of Hola Recruitment and Selection Services, which she owns. Deeds office records reflect a purchase price of R3,6‑million. Zuma moved in in August, when the Scorpions, investigating him for corruption, raided the house. Ithala loan Still in 2005, Hola obtained a R4‑million loan from the KwaZulu-Natal government-funded Ithala Development Finance Corporation. Ithala answers to the provincial finance minister, at the time Zweli Mkhize, a close Zuma ally and now premier. Later it emerged that politically connected individuals -- Mkhize's wife included -- benefited from large Ithala loans, leading the IFP to charge: "The public entity has effectively turned into a ‘piggy bank' for the province's new political elite."