Zuma legal fees: DA leader says High Court ruling should be celebrated

2018-12-13 13:15
DA leader Mmusi Maimane (File)

DA leader Mmusi Maimane (File)

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The judgment handed down in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Thursday, in which former president Jacob Zuma was ordered to pay his own legal fees in his corruption case, should be "celebrated", DA leader Mmusi Maimane said.

Zuma will have to pay his own legal costs which were incurred in his personal capacity in criminal cases instituted against him.

In handing down his judgment, Deputy Judge President Aubrey Ledwaba said the decision the Presidency and the state attorney had taken, that the State would cover the legal costs Zuma incurred in his personal capacity, was invalid and he set it aside.

READ: More woes for Jacob Zuma after court orders he is responsible for his legal fees

Maimane later told reporters: "The judgment is something South Africans should celebrate".

"It says that the deal between Zuma and [President Cyril] Ramaphosa is irrational and illegal and it sets that aside. It stops the cycle of corruption…and now people who want to steal people's money must think twice. I would hope Zuma would pay back and he owes us and the people of SA a lot of money," Maimane said.

Maimane added that the "deal" between the governing party and Zuma was irrational.

"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 that are corrupt and now we have cut the pipeline to protection."

ALSO READ: Zuma legal fees: Dismiss DA case on basis of undue delay, lawyers argue

The DA filed papers late in March, asking the court to set aside a 2006 agreement relating to legal costs Zuma incurred for his criminal prosecution, which the Presidency signed.

This was after Ramaphosa revealed that the agreement, signed by Zuma under former president Thabo Mbeki, formed the basis of the decision to continue paying Zuma's legal fees in the so-called spy tapes case.

Both the DA and EFF lodged applications in the High Court, asking it to set aside the decisions the state attorney made in Zuma's bid to have his legal costs funded by the state. 

Milestone judgment

The EFF has also welcomed the ruling, saying it hopes that those in public office will learn that the state is not obliged to pay their legal costs, as long as the legal troubles they face have nothing to do with the public mandate.

"This judgment is a milestone in a greater and broader effort to save taxpayers' money from politicians who occupy public office, and use state resources to fight legal battles for engaging in questionable conduct for private, personal gain," EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said in a statement.

The Congress of the People expressed similar sentiments, saying Thursday's ruling had brought to an end the exclusive party Zuma and his cronies had enjoyed for a long time.

"No taxpayer's money should ever be used to defend the corrupt ANC leaders and it's deployed cadres in the administration of the different spheres of government. It has always been an anomaly that the state must pay for the criminal deeds of those who steal from the very public purse," Cope's spokesperson Dennis Bloem said. 

He added that the ruling sets a standard and comes at the opportune time as leaders who have been outed at the Zondo commission into state capture will not be able to claim protection at the expense of the state and taxpayers.

Read more on:    da  |  eff  |  jacob zuma  |  mmusi maimane  |  pretoria  |  politics  |  courts
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