DA spokesperson Solly Malatsi has cautioned President Cyril Ramaphosa to practice what he preached last year when he urged his predecessor to pay his own legal fees and not use state coffers to fight personal legal battles.
Speaking to City Press on Thursday, Malatsi said Ramaphosa should heed his own advice, which he gave to former president Jacob Zuma last year in Parliament.
“Like the former president, Ramaphosa should also not utilise state funds to fight his legal battles.”
Malatsi’s utterances come in anticipation of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s imminent release of her final report into Ramaphosa’s alleged dealings with Bosasa.
Yesterday, DA leader Mmusi Maimane also warned Ramaphosa to pay his own legal fees and not use state funds and resources should Mkhwebane’s report find him guilty.
Malatsi said the DA expected the president to take up the report on legal review, but while this was his legal right to do so, “South African taxpayers should not foot the bill for such an endeavour”.
Mkhwebane is expected to release the details of the initial report, which was leaked to the media last month, on the probe into a R500 000 donation to Ramaphosa’s 2017 campaign by Bosasa chief executive Gavin Watson.
Reports have suggested that Ramaphosa is planning to challenge the findings of Mkhwebane’s report. She is particularly investigating whether the president wilfully misled Parliament.
Maimane, in a media statement, said he had written to the president informing him that “South Africans could not be expected to pay the legal bill for the president to defend himself against allegations of corruption, abuse of power, and money laundering”.
The statement noted that the DA leader expected a response by Friday.
Maimane was the main petitioner who led to Mkhwebane investigating the matter and has maintained that Ramaphosa should pay the money out of his own pocket.
“We contend that Ramaphosa would be required by law to pay for such legal action from his own pocket, as he would be litigating in his personal capacity.
“In particular, the president must reassure South Africans that he does not intend to use the services of the state attorney or cause the state attorney to pay legal practitioners on his behalf relating to this matter,” he said.
Maimane noted that Zuma’s court judgment found that the state attorney was wrong in covering the former president’s legal fees for the Nkandla debacle.
“South Africa is fast running out of money. We cannot afford to hand millions of rands to the president to fight his personal legal battles ... The Public Protector is also probing possible money laundering. It is our view that the donation was not made to the president as then deputy president, but rather as a private citizen in pursuit of elected office in the ANC,” Maimane said.