Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

The DA has launched a legal process to force former president Jacob Zuma to pay back more than R15m in taxpayers’ money, which he used to fight "personal" legal battles.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane told a media briefing at Parliament in Cape Town on Wednesday that any agreements between Zuma and President Cyril Ramaphosa on the state covering Zuma’s legal fees must be made public.

"We have received confirmation that Zuma paid R15.3m of taxpayers’ money on his personal case‚" said Maimane.

He was referring to Zuma’s corruption case in the mid-2000s‚ before he was president‚ which collapsed when the National Prosecuting Authority withdrew charges.

"It appears that this R15.3m in legal fees was spent irregularly and unlawfully‚ as the case relates to Jacob Zuma in his personal capacity for crimes allegedly committed before he was president‚" Maimane said.

"He was not a respondent in that case in his capacity as the president of the Republic of South Africa. As such‚ the R15.3m ought to have been paid personally by Jacob Zuma."

Court papers filed by the DA also question why he used his personal lawyer‚ Michael Hulley‚ rather than the state attorney as provided for under the State Attorney Act.

"On what basis does this office claim that the payments made by the Presidency in respect of Zuma’s personal legal fees are in line with legislation and specifically the State Attorney Act?" Maimane asked.

He also questioned an alleged agreement on legal fees between Zuma and former president Thabo Mbeki‚ which said his legal fees would be paid in the event that he was found guilty of the charges.

"We require a copy of this agreement‚ if it exists‚ and an indication on what basis this perk was extended to Zuma‚" Maimane said.

Once the DA had the information‚ he said‚ it would consider approaching the high court to ask that Zuma be forced to pay back the money.