Team Zuma begs for bucks

2018-12-14 15:30
Former president Jacob Zuma.

Former president Jacob Zuma. (Netwerk24)

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Former president Jacob Zuma’s supporters in KZN will be launching a fundraising campaign to help him settle his legal bills in the wake of Thursday’s crushing court ruling that the state should not carry the cost.

“We have raised funds for him before and nothing will stop us from mobilising financial support for him now that opposition parties have ganged up against him and obtained a judgment that we view as a further humiliation of the former president,” ANC KwaZulu-Natal MPL, Vusi Dube, said.

The North Gauteng High Court ruled on Thursday that Zuma should pay his own legal costs incurred in his personal capacity in criminal cases against him.

Further, the court ordered the state attorney to take all necessary steps, including the institution of civil proceedings, to recover the funds, estimated to be around R20 million, which the government has already spent on Zuma’s lawyers.

Thursday’s court order follows an application by the DA and EFF for Zuma to be made to pay from his own pocket the legal fees arising from his corruption case.

Dube, who is at the forefront of the campaign mobilising support for Zuma during his court appearances, said they were concerned about the court ruling.

“What we have been saying all along is that we want justice.

“Our view is that those who took the matter of the former president’s legal fees to court don’t want him to get a fair trial,” he said.

Dube, who is also a pastor, is part of a group of clergymen in the province affiliated to the National Interfaith Council of South Africa who have thrown their weight behind Zuma in the face of the former president’s mounting legal woes.

In 2006, Zuma, who at the time did not hold any position in government following his axing as the country’s deputy president, entered into a deal with the Thabo Mbeki-led administration for the state to pay for his legal fees unless he is found guilty.

When President Cyril Ramaphosa replaced Zuma as president this year, he honoured the agreement, with the state continuing to foot the bills.

However, the North Gauteng High Court found that it was wrong for the state to pay for Zuma’s legal fees.

“It is declared that the state is not liable for legal costs incurred by Zuma,” Deputy Judge President Aubrey Ledwaba said.

Zuma’s legal team did not immediately indicate whether he intended to appeal the ruling.

University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) legal expert, Professor Karthy Govender, said it was likely that government will continue paying for Zuma’s fees if he appeals.

“Should he lodge an appeal then the general principle is that the court decision is suspended pending the outcome of the appeal,” he said.

Zuma, who is currently facing fraud, corruption and racketeering charges in connection with the arms deal in the 90s, will be appearing in the Pietermaritzburg high court early next year.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane, described Thursday’s court ruling as a milestone in the war against corruption.

“I think this is a precedent-setting order ... when people feel the taxpayers’ money should be used for their own personal protection, that simply can’t be allowed.

“As the DA, we fought against the system of corruption, we fought against the system that protects people who are corrupt and now we have cut the pipeline to protection,” he said.

Apart from the criminal charges, Zuma has also been implicated by several witnesses who testified at the Zondo Commission investigating alleged state capture.

Maimane said the DA will also be seeking that Zuma be made to foot his own legal bill in matters related to the commission.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  jacob zuma

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