Zuma abused his power as president‚ EFF lawyer says

Former President Jacob Zuma.
Former President Jacob Zuma.
Image: FILE

Former president Jacob Zuma abused his power as the head of state when he had his legal fees paid by the state attorney to his private lawyer.

This was the argument by the EFF’s legal counsel‚ Advocate Thembeka Ngcukaitobi‚ before a full bench in the Pretoria High Court on Tuesday.

The EFF has joined the DA in its review application‚ in which the party wants decisions taken by the state attorney and the presidency to pay Zuma's legal fees declared unlawful and to be set aside.

"Mr Zuma‚ like all of us‚ must be treated equally. But we see that there is an element of favouritism - Zuma has been treated differently‚" Ngcukaitobi argued.

Ngcukaitobi said Zuma's status as the president of the country had put him in a unique position where he had limitless access to state resources.

"It is those facts that show that Mr Zuma had special treatment and that could only happen because he was president of the country.

"He was able to abuse the state resources."

The state attorney had not explained why it had outsourced its services to a private attorney to represent Zuma‚ Ngcukaitobi said.

"These are public funds. They should have done so‚” he said.

Ngcukaitobi also argued that there was no suggestion that the decision to use Michael Hulley's services was put under scrutiny.

"The record reveals no evidence that the State Attorney or the DG [director general] of Justice‚ as the accounting officer‚ ever exercised any prior control or subsequent scrutiny over the work being done by Mr Zuma’s legal team before paying each invoice and adverse costs order.

"Each payment thus contravened the Public Finance Management Act‚ 1999.”

Zuma‚ Ngcukaitobi said‚ must explain how public funds used to pay his legal fees‚ were accounted for.

"Contrary to the requirements of the PFMA [Public Finance Management Act] there is no explanation of how the legal fees were procured."

Ngcukaitobi said the cases Zuma was facing had nothing to do with his official duties.

"These are self-standing offences...that have nothing to do with his public office."

According to Ngcukaitobi‚ Zuma was not entitled to monies from the state attorney and if he could not afford to pay legal fees‚ he should have gone to the legal aid board.

Arguments continue.