Zuma awaits ruling on his continuous state funding
DA, EFF unite on JZ arms deal legal fees
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.
Former president Jacob Zuma has been tapping into unlimited taxpayers’ funds to fight against his arms deal case.