Jacob Zuma fails to file affidavit on funding entitlement
Former president Jacob Zuma will be back in court to face corruption charges next week, but he has missed a court deadline to explain why he believes he is legally entitled to state funding for his defence in that trial.
Zuma was due to file an affidavit by June 18 responding to bids by the EFF and DA in the High Court in Pretoria to stop the previously unlimited state funding of his legal costs.
A month after the deadline lapsed he has not done so, despite claiming that without state funding he lacks the means to defend himself in court.
His failure to respond to the application has resulted in a delay in the case being heard and on Wednesday prompted the DA’s lawyers to demand an explanation from Zuma’s new attorney, Daniel Mantsha.
Business Day tried, unsuccessfully, to get comment from Mantsha.
Zuma, who must appear in the High Court in Pietermaritzburg on July 27, is facing 16 charges, involving 783 incidents of racketeering, corruption, money laundering and fraud.
The charges relate to the government’s multibillion-rand arms deal in the late 1990s.
Zuma was linked to the deal through Schabir Shaik, his former financial adviser, who was jailed for corruption.
The DA and the EFF are fighting for a 2006 deal — concluded between former president Thabo Mbeki, Zuma and the state attorney, in which the state agreed to fund Zuma’s legal costs — to be overturned.
The EFF furthermore wants Zuma and his lawyers to be ordered to repay the millions already spent by the state on his corruption trial.
President Cyril Ramaphosa agreed that the state would continue to fund Zuma’s defence costs in his corruption trial, pending the outcome of the DA and EFF fees challenges.
Ramaphosa is not opposing those applications and says he will abide by the court’s decision. Zuma is thus fighting for continued state funding of his defence on his own.
The Presidency’s stance comes while Ramaphosa is struggling to unite the party ahead of the 2019 national elections, with strong divisions in KwaZulu-Natal.
Ramaphosa’s office has said he has not agreed to a blanket funding of the former president’s planned multiple court challenges to the legality of his corruption prosecution, but only of the actual trial defence.
Zuma will have to convince the state attorney that he is entitled to legal funding for any cases that are not directly linked to his actual corruption case.
Those cases include Zuma’s fight to retain state funding of his defence costs, as well as his battle to overturn the decision by prosecutions boss Shaun Abrahams to proceed with the case against him.
The state has said it is ready to start with the corruption trial at the earliest available court date, November 12. Zuma is expected to apply for a permanent stay of prosecution.
Meanwhile, Zuma has replaced his previous advocate Kemp J Kemp with criminal counsel Mike Hellens.