South Africans will fork out for Zuma’s legal fees court case

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

Taxpayers will fund former president Jacob Zuma’s fight to avoid personally paying an estimated R10-million in legal fees spent on his disastrous State Capture court cases.

But‚ the State Attorneys office has claimed‚ that Zuma will be required to pay back the money spent on that appeal if he loses the case.

“The State Attorney will prepare and facilitate the signing of a detailed agreement in which the former president undertakes to refund the state all fees and disbursements incurred in the event that he is not successful in the appeal proceedings‚” State Attorney Isaac Chowe wrote in a letter to Zuma’s lawyers.

He added that the State Attorney would make sure that the fees would be paid “in accordance with the fair and reasonable tariffs discussed with the State Attorney’s office‚ and the State Attorney will verify all accounts and invoices received in respect of this matter before processing same for payment”.

As yet‚ it remains unclear whether Zuma has actually signed the so-called “refund deal”.

The letter comes as the legality of Zuma’s past and present legal funding by the state is currently being challenged by the Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters.

Last month‚ the Presidency stated that it had agreed to fund Zuma’s fees in respect of his defense to the corruption and racketeering case against him – but stressed that the former president would need to formally apply‚ through the State Attorney‚ for funding for any other cases.

One such case is Zuma’s attempt to challenge the North Gauteng High Court’s decision that he should personally foot the bill for his aborted bid to stop the release of former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s “State of Capture” report‚ and his failed subsequent attempt to review that report.

Zuma has said he believes the North Gauteng High Court was unfairly “punishing me” for seeking to challenge the State of Capture report‚ despite his continued belief that he was correct in doing so.

According to Zuma‚ being forced to pay the legal costs of the State Capture cases “poses a significant financial burden on me personally”.

The North Gauteng High Court found that Zuma should be held personally liable for the State Capture costs because he had “recklessly” litigated.

The former President has‚ however‚ denied that his legal challenges to the public protector’s report were driven by his own personal interests‚ because he‚ his son Duduzane and his friends the Gupta family‚ were all implicated in wrongdoing by Madonsela.

Instead‚ he said he had “serious concerns about the constitutionality and/or lawfulness of the remedial action imposed by the Public Protector”. In particular‚ he raised issue with her order that Zuma should not be responsible for appointing the judge who would preside over a judicial inquiry into State Capture.

“An incorrect impression was created that I was either delaying or avoiding the establishment of a commission of inquiry. That has never been my intention”.

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