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.

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