DA is aiming for Zuma’s pockets
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Ramaphosa has already withdrawn leave to appeal by Zuma on the personal cost order in the state capture report.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.”
DOCKED: Former president Jacob Zuma surrounded by church leaders and supporters at the Durban High Court on Friday.