Former President Jacob Zuma. Picture: KOPANO TLAPE/GCIS
Former President Jacob Zuma. Picture: KOPANO TLAPE/GCIS

Former president Jacob Zuma spent R15.3m of the taxpayers’ money in his legal battles to avoid prosecution, President Cyril Ramaphosa has disclosed.

Ramaphosa revealed this information to the DA on Tuesday in a bid to settle legal action brought by the opposition party over Zuma’s refusal to disclose his legal fees in what is known as the spy tapes case.

The state attorney indicated that Ramaphosa intended to disclose this information in Parliament on Wednesday‚ in response to questions from EFF leader Julius Malema.

Malema also wanted to ask “what legal provision[s] or policy did the state rely on when using state resources to fund the former president’s legal costs?”.

Zuma steadfastly avoided answering DA leader Mmusi Maimane’s questions about how much his “Stalingrad” campaign cost taxpayers.

Ramaphosa’s spokesman, Tyrone Seale, told Financial Mail last week that the state would continue to fund the former president’s legal fees if he went on trial for corruption‚ on the basis of an undertaking that was concluded between Zuma and then president Thabo Mbeki in 2006.

“The former president signed an undertaking to refund the state if he is found to have acted in his personal capacity and own interest in the commission of offences with which he was charged,” Seale said

It, however, remains unclear whether these costs will include the money spent by Zuma in avoiding prosecution.

Zuma faces 783 counts of racketeering, fraud, tax evasion and corruption.

The decision taken in April 2009 by the National Prosecuting Authority to drop charges allowed Zuma to run for president.

Then acting prosecutions director Mokotedi Mpshe’s decision at the time was based on phone intercepts presented by Zuma’s legal team that suggested the timing of the charges against Zuma in late 2007 may have been part of a political plot against the president.

But Judge Aubrey Ledwaba at the High Court in Pretoria said that Mpshe’s thinking and behaviour was irrational, especially his failure to disclose his decision to prosecutors until the moment he announced it to the nation at a news conference.