EFF‚ DA to court over Zuma funding at state’s expense

South Africa President,Jacob Zuma

The Economic Freedom Fighters and the Democratic Alliance will go to court to ensure that former president Jacob Zuma pays back the costs for his legal representation that have been paid for by the state.

The presidency on Thursday informed the DA that it decided in 2006 to provide Zuma with legal representation at state expense.

This followed a request from Zuma‚ who was at the time facing two corruption charges.

The presidency said the decision to provide state legal representation was subject to the undertaking by Zuma to refund the legal costs incurred by the state in the event that his defence was unsuccessful.

“While it has not been possible to locate a written agreement between the presidency and Zuma in this respect‚ the presidency does have copies of undertakings signed by Zuma on August 22 2006 and September 26 2008‚” the presidency said in a statement.

However‚ the DA said it was clear that Zuma’s application for legal assistance was for the criminal trial in which he faced two counts of corruption‚ and not the R15.3-million already spent on the civil trial brought by the Democratic Alliance challenging the setting aside of his prosecution.

“The criminal trial has yet to begin.

The DA will now approach the courts to seek a declaratory order that payment of all the legal fees for the case is declared unlawful‚” the DA said on Thursday night.

The EFF was also not satisfied with the response by President Cyril Ramaphosa on the question of Zuma’s legal funding at state’s expense.

“It is untrue that a decision to fund the personal legal battles of Zuma could be taken at the level of the state attorney without the involvement of any members of the executive‚” EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said.

Mdlozi said a question that arose was how the request was made and who determined that it was in the public interest to defend the corrupt activities of a government official.

Ndlozi said to justify the irregular expenditure of taxpayers’ money on the grounds that the alleged corruption took place while Zuma was an MEC and later deputy president was absurd.

“It means the state would have also funded his rape trial if it happened while he was a government official.”

Ndlozi said it had instructed its lawyers last week to prepare a court application to set aside the secret deal made between the state and Zuma.

“We will ensure that Zuma will #PayBackTheMoney‚ the R15-million that the state paid for his legal costs.”

The EFF said all other payments must be stopped with immediate effect before the resumption of Zuma’s criminal trial.