ZUMA’S LEGAL BILL HAUNTS CYRIL
May have to pay back R15m Spent on spy tapes saga costs
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