Zuma’s legal fees dilemma
Fruits of state capture will be off limits
FORMER president Jacob Zuma is alleged to have made millions from state capture, but this wealth might not help him now that he has to foot the bill for his own legal costs.
The High Court in Pretoria yesterday ruled that Zuma had to personally pay the court costs of his failed legal review of former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s directive instructing that a judicial commission of inquiry be appointed to probe state capture.
The decision was welcomed by opposition parties, who said it set a precedent, not only for the embattled former president, but also other politicians who are using frivolous legal challenges for their own gains.
For Zuma, the ruling could see the end of his infamous defence tactic in which he has used taxpayer money to slow down and impede the various court battles he has been involved in.
“Now that there is the possibility of individuals paying their own costs, it is going to effect many leaders who saw this as a way of keeping justice at bay,” said political analyst Somadoda Fikeni.
It is believed Zuma’s costs relating to yesterday’s court decision could amount to R10 million.
Even if Zuma had the money to pay this from allegedly illegal gains, Fikeni said it would be difficult for him to use these to meet his legal costs.
“The problem is that once the spotlight is on you, any transaction will be followed. So it is possible that those involved in state capture won’t be able to access those funds.”
Political analyst Daniel Silke said Zuma would probably appeal the decision, although at his own cost.
“What this is, is a moral victory for South Africans,” he said.
DA federal council chairperson James Selfe said: “Zuma’s motive in launching this litigation was to obfuscate the public protector’s findings and frustrate her remedial action, specifically to establish the state capture inquiry. He purposefully did not want this commission established because it would implicate him, his family and those who were politically connected to him. He subsequently and belatedly abandoned this contention and appointed the inquiry.”
ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe said Zuma must pay for his cases, and this was a lesson for all ministers and officials.
Cope spokesperson Dennis Bloem said Zuma had abused his office by getting the state to settle his legal bills.