More tax money to fund JZ case

2018-07-15 06:04
Former President Jacob Zuma (Photo: Gallo Images)

Former President Jacob Zuma (Photo: Gallo Images)

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President Cyril Ramaphosa has agreed that taxpayers must once again cough up for former president Jacob Zuma’s legal costs in a court case.

This time it is for an appeal against the personal costs order granted against Zuma following his aborted attempt to review former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s state capture report.

A letter from the state attorneys, recently submitted to the high court in Pretoria and obtained by City Press’ sister publication Rapport, confirms that the presidency has authorised the payment of costs for Zuma in this matter. This is despite the fact that the court battle over Zuma’s legal costs in respect of his criminal trial has not yet been finalised.

This payment will be over and above the growing legal bill for litigation related to Zuma’s corruption trial. The presidency has indicated that it will continue to carry these costs until a court orders otherwise.

The case for which new funds have been authorised relates to litigation over Madonsela’s report on state capture. Zuma attempted to interdict her from releasing the report in late 2016, just before her term of office ended. However, he abruptly abandoned the case after argument had already begun and the court eventually ordered him to pay legal costs in his personal capacity.

It is this order that Ramaphosa will allow Zuma to appeal, again using taxpayers’ money. According to the state attorney’s letter, dated May 10 2018, the presidency has approved Zuma’s new funding application. Taxpayers will cover the reasonable costs of Zuma’s new personal attorney, Daniel Mantsha, advocate Muzi Sikhakhane SC and junior counsel.

Mantsha is the former chairperson of Denel who was linked to the Guptas through leaked emails. He has also previously been struck from the roll of attorneys as a result of dishonesty.

The presidency does, however, expect Zuma to pay back the money if the appeal does not succeed. Former police boss Jackie Selebi, who was convicted of corruption, had to sign a similar agreement, but never paid back a cent.

The state attorney’s letter was submitted to court as part of supplementary records in the DA’s court battle over Zuma’s legal fees. The DA wants the court to order Zuma to pay back everything spent on his legal costs. It also wants the court to find that Zuma is not entitled to taxpayer money for his criminal trial.

Ramaphosa has earlier indicated that he will abide by the court’s decision in the matter involving the DA.

Zuma informed the parties that he would oppose the application, but the deadline for him to submit court papers has already passed.

The legal teams in this matter will meet with deputy judge president Aubrey Ledwaba about Zuma’s submission and a court date for the matter in August.

In its most recent submissions, the DA has argued that government still refuses to reveal exactly how much money has been coughed up for Zuma over the years. The amounts which have been revealed in court papers up to now are:

. R1m for advocates to monitor the corruption trial of Schabir Shaik, Zuma’s former financial adviser who was convicted of corruption;

. R9.7m paid when Zuma was charged with corruption the first time around; and

. R2.6m paid for three other cases in which government has only submitted case numbers.

The DA wants to know how much money was spent on Zuma’s defence before he was charged for corruption the first time, as well as for the raft of other cases that relate to the corruption case.

Zuma will again appear in the high court in Durban on July 27 in his corruption matter.

Read more on:    cyril ramaphosa  |  jacob zuma

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