Zuma awaits rul­ing on his con­tin­u­ous state fund­ing

DA, EFF unite on JZ arms deal le­gal fees

Sowetan - - News - By Isaac Mahlangu

The EFF has ap­pealed to the North Gaut­eng High Court in Pre­to­ria to is­sue an or­der to stop for­mer pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma from tap­ping into un­lim­ited tax­pay­ers’ funds to fight against his arms deal case. The red berets’ lawyer, ad­vo­cate Tem­beka Ngcukaitobi, ar­gued in court that a de­ci­sion that tax­pay­ers should fund Zuma’s le­gal fees was wrong. “The de­lay [in re­view­ing the de­ci­sion] point is a none-point be­cause [Pres­i­dent Cyril] Ramaphosa has al­ready in­di­cated that he will con­tinue to pay Mr Zuma’s le­gal fees, so the de­lay point is dis­posed on a sim­ple prin­ci­ple of a con­tin­u­ous wrong,” he ar­gued. The DA and the EFF would like Zuma to re­pay mil­lions the state spent on his le­gal fees for more than 10 years. Ngcukaitobi said the court had a re­spon­si­bil­ity to de­liver an or­der that would stop the wrong de­ci­sion from con­tin­u­ing as Zuma’s trial was loom­ing. He ac­cused Zuma of de­lay­ing the start of his crim­i­nal case in court be­cause he had ac­cess to a bot­tom­less pit of tax­pay­ers’ funds. Zuma’s lawyer, ad­vo­cate Tha­bani Ma­suku, ar­gued that the court ap­pli­ca­tion against the for­mer pres­i­dent by the DA and EFF is aimed at dis­rupt­ing his prepa­ra­tion for the up­com­ing arms deal trial. Ma­suku ap­pealed to the full bench of the high court to avoid be­ing used in mat­ters that be­long in po­lit­i­cal ral­lies. “This ap­pli­ca­tion is meant to dis­rupt Mr Zuma’s prepa­ra­tion for the trial, now he has to spend re­sources de­fend­ing the agree­ment [to fund his le­gal fees] which has a great deal in help­ing him de­fend him­self,” Ma­suku ar­gued when wrap­ping up his ar­gu­ments on the fi­nal day of the two-day court hear­ing. “If the court agrees with the DA and the EFF, that de­ci­sion will be cel­e­brated at po­lit­i­cal ral­lies and par­lia­ment. The court must not be drawn into be­ing used in po­lit­i­cal strate­gies.”

There are no ex­act records that showed how much tax­pay­ers had spent on Zuma’s le­gal fees. The DA es­ti­mates the fig­ure to be around R16m while the EFF puts it at R32m. Ma­suku said even the lack of records was a good enough rea­son for the court to dis­miss the ap­pli­ca­tion on the prin­ci­ple of un­rea­son­able de­lay by the DA and EFF in re­view­ing gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to fund Zuma’s le­gal fees.

Both op­po­si­tion par­ties ar­gued that the charges that Zuma faced did not re­late to him con­duct­ing his job for gov­ern­ment.

Ma­suku said the court was also “not en­ti­tled to make far­reach­ing con­clu­sions” that the charges that Zuma faced in the arms deal case were not a re­sult of him per­form­ing his du­ties... “or mat­ters within his scope of em­ploy­ment.” “This court should leave that to the Pi­eter­mar­itzburg high court,” Ma­suku said. Zuma’s case, which will be back in court later this month, re­lated to more than 700 ques­tion­able pay­ments he al­legedly re­ceived in con­nec­tion with the gov­ern­ment’s con­tro­ver­sial multi­bil­lion-rand arms deal. DA le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tive Sean Rosen­berg ar­gued that it was un­rea­son­able to ex­pect the party to have known of the de­ci­sion to fund Zuma’s le­gal fees when this mat­ter was at one stage even struck off the roll. He ar­gued that sec­tion 3 of the State At­tor­ney Act was not met when the de­ci­sion to fund Zuma’s le­gal fees with ex­ter­nal lawyers was made.

The court in­di­cated that a rul­ing will be de­liv­ered be­fore the close of the cur­rent term.

/ JACKIE CLAUSEN

For­mer pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma has been tap­ping into un­lim­ited tax­pay­ers’ funds to fight against his arms deal case.

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