DA is aim­ing for Zuma’s pock­ets

The Sunday Independent - - Politics - SIYABONGA MKHWANAZI AND ZELDA VENTER

FOR­MER Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma could find him­self in deeper fi­nan­cial trou­ble if Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa de­cides not to op­pose an ap­pli­ca­tion by the DA to block the state from pay­ing his le­gal fees.

Ramaphosa has al­ready with­drawn leave to ap­peal by Zuma on the per­sonal cost or­der in the state cap­ture re­port. He said if Zuma wanted to ap­peal the per­sonal cost or­der against him he can do so from his own pocket. Zuma had tried to block the re­lease of the re­port in Oc­to­ber 2016.

The cost or­der against Zuma amounted to R10 mil­lion.

While Zuma is set on fight­ing the crim­i­nal charges against him, it is not clear at whose ex­pense it would be or how many more of th­ese le­gal chal­lenges will have to be footed by the public purse.

Tax­pay­ers have al­ready paid mil­lions in­curred in le­gal costs since Zuma was ini­tially in­dicted for cor­rup­tion in De­cem­ber 2007. His pros­e­cu­tion has a long and on­go­ing history, cost­ing the State dearly.

How­ever, in the next few weeks the DA’s ap­pli­ca­tion against Ramaphosa to stop pay­ments on Zuma’s le­gal fees in the arms deal case is ex­pected to be heard in the High Court in Pre­to­ria.

Ramaphosa’s spokesper­son Khusela Diko yesterday did not re­spond to a text mes­sage on whether the pres­i­dent has taken a de­ci­sion on the DA’s ap­pli­ca­tion to ei­ther op­pose it or not.

How­ever, Zuma has in­di­cated in the High Court in Dur­ban he will fight his case right through ev­ery avail­able le­gal means.

His lawyers in­di­cated they will lodge a re­view ap­pli­ca­tion against the charges in June. This will be fol­lowed by the per­ma­nent stay of pros­e­cu­tion ap­pli­ca­tion in Novem­ber.

This will re­quire more fund­ing from the State. But Ramaphosa has not said whether he will fight the DA ap­pli­ca­tion to op­pose the le­gal fees given to Zuma by the state fol­low­ing the agree­ment with the gov­ern­ment years ago.

Zuma had promised in the agree­ment he will pay back ev­ery cent if he loses the case. But the op­po­si­tion had none of it. Al­ready Zuma has spent R15.3m in the civil case brought by the DA from 2009 for the re­in­state­ment of the 16 cor­rup­tion charges against him.

The mat­ter is now rolled in the High Court in Dur­ban. Op­po­si­tion par­ties want Zuma to pay back the R15.3m in­curred over the last nine years in the spy tapes case.

DA fed­eral coun­cil chair­per­son James Selfe said the coun­try can no longer con­tinue to pay for Zuma’s le­gal bill. “In March the DA filed pa­pers with the North Gaut­eng High Court ask­ing the court to de­clare that the agree­ment be­tween the Pres­i­dency and Zuma to cover the le­gal costs in­curred by him for his crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion be re­viewed, de­clared in­valid and set aside,” said Selfe.

He said they wanted ev­ery cent of the R15.3m paid in the last decade to de­fend the spy tapes case to be paid back, and that Zuma pays for his arms deal cor­rup­tion case from his own pocket.

Gaut­eng High Court, Pre­to­ria, Judge Pres­i­dent Dun­stan Mlambo in De­cem­ber or­dered that Zuma had to per­son­ally foot the bill for try­ing to block the re­port. The judge at the time said Zuma tried to in­ter­fere with the con­sti­tu­tional obli­ga­tions of for­mer public pro­tec­tor, Thuli Madon­sela.

Zuma ap­peared tense in court on Fri­day, al­though he had put on a brave face in front of his sup­port­ers.

Head of the Pre­to­ria Bar of Ad­vo­cates, Fran­cois Botes, told In­de­pen­dent News­pa­pers the re­view pro­ceed­ings could drag on for at least two years. This is if he did not get the de­sired rul­ing in court and turned to the Supreme Court of Ap­peal in Bloemfontein.

“Zuma has a history of drag­ging out mat­ters and to turn to the Con­sti­tu­tional Court for re­dress,” Botes said.

He re­garded Zuma’s chances of suc­ceed­ing in de­fend­ing the ap­pli­ca­tion that he had to foot his le­gal bills him­self as slim.

“My feel­ing is he should fund his own costs re­gard­ing his crim­i­nal trial. At the end of the day he is charged as a nor­mal cit­i­zen. He is not be­ing charged as the pres­i­dent. No one is above the law.”

PIC­TURE: BON­GANI MBATHA/AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY (ANA)

DOCKED: For­mer pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma sur­rounded by church lead­ers and sup­port­ers at the Dur­ban High Court on Fri­day.

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