May have to pay back R15m Spent on spy tapes saga costs

The Star Late Edition - - FRONT PAGE - SIVIWE FEKETHA

FOR­MER pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma could be forced to pay back R15 mil­lion the state in­curred in his al­most decade-long fight against re­in­state­ment of cor­rup­tion, rack­e­teer­ing and money laun­der­ing charges against him.

Ac­cord­ing to a State At­tor­ney let­ter ad­dressed to the DA, R15 300 250 has been in­curred by the Pres­i­dency on le­gal costs per­tain­ing to the so-called spy tapes saga.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane said their le­gal ac­tion against Zuma was in his per­sonal ca­pac­ity as he was not the pres­i­dent of the coun­try when he was charged.

Maimane said the gov­ern­ment had ir­reg­u­larly blown tax­pay­ers’ money to keep Zuma out of jail.

“The DA has con­sulted our le­gal team and be­gun the le­gal process of re­triev­ing every cent of this R15.3m from Zuma. As this money was spent by the Pres­i­dency, we call on Pres­i­dent Ramaphosa to join our le­gal ac­tion to re­cover this money.

“The new pres­i­dent can­not talk tough on cor­rup­tion and waste­ful spend­ing, yet turn a blind eye to this bla­tant abuse of pub­lic funds by Ja­cob Zuma,” Maimane said.

Pres­i­dency spokesper­son Khusela Diko has con­firmed knowl­edge of the amount which the State At­tor­ney said was in­curred by the the Pres­i­dency in de­fend­ing Zuma.

“Our un­der­stand­ing is that all le­gal costs in­curred in re­la­tion to the court cases in­volv­ing the for­mer pres­i­dent were in­curred in line with the State At­tor­ney Act,” Diko said.

To­day, Ramaphosa was set to ap­pear be­fore Par­lia­ment to face the ques­tion on the amount the state has paid for Zuma’s lit­i­ga­tion.

EFF leader Julius Malema has sub­mit­ted a ques­tion to the Na­tional Assem­bly to es­tab­lish the to­tal amount of money spent on Zuma’s le­gal costs, in­clud­ing on the spy tapes mat­ter.

The EFF ap­proached the Con­sti­tu­tional Court in 2015, where it suc­cess­fully ap­plied for Zuma to be forced to pay back R7.8m af­ter he was de­clared to have un­duly ben­e­fited from se­cu­rity up­grades at his Nkandla home­stead.

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa told In­de­pen­dent Me­dia last night it was un­likely that the ANC-led gov­ern­ment would try to get the amount from Zuma, even though it was clear that he was not en­ti­tled to be cov­ered by the state.

“If Zuma was not in gov­ern­ment at the time, it is ir­ra­tional that such an amount can be used by the gov­ern­ment to cover or fund his at­tempts to stay out of jail. That is a huge amount and there are many things that it could be used on if he is forced to bring it back, but Ramaphosa can­not do that,” Holomisa said.

He said op­po­si­tion par­ties would have to get le­gal opin­ions and then de­cide on how Zuma could be pos­si­bly forced to pay back the money.

“I ex­pect that the ANC will ve­he­mently op­pose the move to force Zuma to pay this money. This will need a court or­der and we have to get a le­gal opin­ion on how to deal with it,” Holomisa said.

In 2009, then act­ing Na­tional Di­rec­tor for Pub­lic Prose­cu­tions Mokotedi Mp­she dropped the 783 counts of al­leged crim­i­nal trans­ac­tions against Zuma, prompt­ing the DA to wage a bit­ter bat­tle for them to be re­in­stated.

The de­ci­sion by Mp­she paved the way for Zuma’s pres­i­dency, which has been marred by scan­dals and court bat­tles, for which the Pres­i­dency paid.

Last year, the Pre­to­ria High Court de­clared Mp­she’s de­ci­sion to let Zuma off the hook for the spy tapes saga – stem­ming from claims that Zuma get kick­backs to in­flu­ence ten­ders of arms pur­chases by the gov­ern­ment – as ir­ra­tional and un­law­ful, and set it aside.

Late last year, Zuma and the NPA un­suc­cess­fully ap­pealed the de­ci­sion, and the pros­e­cut­ing au­thor­ity is due to make an an­nounce­ment on Zuma’s prose­cu­tion soon.

Mean­while, NPA head Shaun Abra­hams is ex­pected to an­nounce his fi­nal de­ci­sion on Zuma’s prose­cu­tion to­mor­row.

The Coun­cil for the Ad­vance­ment of the South African Con­sti­tu­tion has ap­proached the Con­sti­tu­tional Court in a bid to block Abra­hams from tak­ing the de­ci­sion, as his ap­point­ment by Zuma was de­clared un­law­ful. Casac asked the court to make the de­ci­sion by to­mor­row, af­ter which Abra­hams said he’d make the an­nounce­ment.


IN A JAM: For­mer pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma

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