State aid for Zuma’s le­gal fight ap­proved

Ramaphosa gives his pres­i­den­tial green light

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - BALD­WIN NDABA

PRES­I­DENT Cyril Ramaphosa has of­fi­cially given his stamp of ap­proval to the de­ci­sion by the state’s at­tor­neys to al­low ex-pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma to use state funds to fight 16 crim­i­nal charges lodged against him in the Dur­ban High Court.

Ramaphosa filed pa­pers in the High Court in Pre­to­ria this week, in which he gave no­tice to op­pose the DA’s ap­pli­ca­tion to de­clare the us­age of state funds by Zuma as “ir­ra­tional” and “un­law­ful”.

Zuma made his first court ap­pear­ance on April 6, in con­nec­tion with the charges against him, but the case was post­poned un­til June 8 to al­low him to make a for­mal ap­pli­ca­tion to re­view the charges.

Zuma, who faces one count of rack­e­teer­ing, two counts of cor­rup­tion, one count of money laun­der­ing and 12 counts of fraud, has un­til Tues­day to make a for­mal ap­pli­ca­tion. He may also ap­ply for a stay of pros­e­cu­tion.

Zuma’s co- ac­cused, arms man­u­fac­turer Thales SA, in­tends to make rep­re­sen­ta­tions to the Na­tional Direc­tor of Public Prose­cu­tions, Shaun Abra­hams, on why charges against it should be dropped.

Ramaphosa, Jus­tice and Cor­rec­tional Ser­vices Mi­nis- ter Michael Ma­sutha and Zuma filed no­tices to op­pose the DA’s ap­pli­ca­tion.

They are now ex­pected to file writ­ten af­fi­davits jus­ti­fy­ing their de­ci­sion.

In March, the DA through James Selfe, chair­per­son of its fed­eral ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee, asked the court to in­ter­dict Ramaphosa from al­low­ing Zuma to use state funds to de­fend him­self in court.

In pa­pers filed on March 23, Selfe ar­gued Ramaphosa had no le­gal grounds to al­low Zuma to use state funds to chal­lenge the 16 charges.

Selfe filed the pa­pers af­ter Ramaphosa had con­firmed in Par­lia­ment, in his re­ply to ques­tions by EFF leader Julius Malema, that the state would pay for Zuma’s le­gal fees.

Ramaphosa told Malema in March that the de­ci­sion to al­low tax­pay­ers’ money to be used was made in ac­cor­dance to Sec­tion 3(3) of the State At­tor­ney Act of 1957 – say­ing it was al­low­able be­cause the al­leged of­fences were com­mit­ted while Zuma was hold­ing an of­fi­cial po­si­tion in the gov­ern­ment as MEC in KwaZu­luNatal.

Selfe dis­agreed, ar­gu­ing that Sec­tion 3(3) did not al­low Ramaphosa or any other gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial to make such a de­ci­sion.

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