Former president Jacob Zuma. Picture: REUTERS
Former president Jacob Zuma. Picture: REUTERS

The state will not challenge the courts if they find that former president Jacob Zuma must foot his own legal bills and pay back the money already spent to fight corruption charges.

In response to a question in Parliament in 2018, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the state was paying Zuma’s legal costs because the allegations against him came while he was in the employ of the government.

The DA in March lodged an application in court to have Zuma pay back to the Treasury the R15.3m spent on him trying to avoid having to face charges of fraud, corruption and racketeering. Ramaphosa is a respondent in the matter.

The Presidency said it had filed a notice in the High Court in Pretoria on Monday indicating that it would abide by the court’s decision in the DA’s application.

This meant that Ramaphosa would not be opposing the application.

“The Presidency has indicated that it nevertheless intends to submit an explanatory affidavit to assist the court in understanding the history, legal basis, rationale and processes relating to the provisions of this support,” spokeswoman Khusela Diko said.

After a nearly 10-year battle by the DA to ensure Zuma has his day in court, national director of public prosecutions Shaun Abrahams announced in March that the former president would need to face the charges.

Zuma is facing 16 charges — one count of racketeering‚ two counts of corruption‚ one count of money laundering and 12 counts of fraud. This is in relation to 783 questionable payments connected with the arms deal‚ over which Zuma’s former financial adviser‚ Schabir Shaik‚ was jailed for corruption.

His lawyers have said that he is lodging a review application of the decision. However, this has not been done yet.

Zuma made his first appearance in the High Court in Durban in April.

The matter was provisionally postponed to June 8.

The DA welcomed the decision taken by the Presidency and state attorney to abide by whatever decision the court came to in the matter involving Zuma’s legal fees.

“We now hope that the legal proceedings against Mr Zuma will finally go ahead without any further unnecessary delays. The resolution of this case will speed up the resumption of the criminal case,” DA federal executive chairman James Selfe said.

Zuma is opposing the DA’s application.