Jacob Zuma can afford his own legal fees, the DA tells high court
Counsel for the DA tells the court that Zuma did not qualify for the state to pay his legal fees because he was charged in his personal capacity
There is no reason why former president Jacob Zuma should not pay the the legal fees relating to his criminal prosecution, given that he earned a salary of about R30m between 1999 and 2017, the DA argued in court on Tuesday.
The high court in Pretoria heard arguments in an application brought by the DA to review the agreements between the presidency and Zuma regarding legal costs incurred by him while fighting criminal prosecution.
Zuma faces 16 charges of fraud, corruption, money-laundering and racketeering, which stem from 783 payments made to him in relation to the arms deal. The charges were dropped in 2009 but reinstated earlier this year.
Zuma was formally re-indicted on March 16 2018, after he made fresh representation to former National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Shaun Abrahams protesting the charges.
This was after the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) upheld a judgment that found the decision by former acting NDPP Mokotedi Mpshe to drop the charges in 2009 irrational.
Counsel for the DA, advocate Sean Rosenberg, told the court that Zuma did not qualify for the state to pay his legal fees in relation to the years-long legal battle to keep him out of the dock, because he was charged in his personal capacity, and not for actions he was held liable for in his professional capacity.
He also said the state’s attorney was not allowed to outsource the work to Zuma’s private attorney, Michael Hulley, while picking up the bill for the costs incurred. But even if the court found the agreement to be lawful, Rosenberg said Zuma would have to pay back the money as the condition for receiving the funding was that he would pay it back if he lost the case.
Rosenberg said that an agreement entered into in 2008, after Zuma was indicted for the second time, could not be used on the further funding of Zuma’s defence, as he was re-indicted afresh after making new representations this year.
Rosenberg said Zuma, therefore, would have had to re-apply for funding, as he had done on different occasions in the earlier phases of the marathon legal battle.
The presidency has said that it will continue to foot Zuma’s legal bill until the agreement is reviewed and set aside by a court.
The legal bill for fighting Zuma’s charges is officially put at about R15m, but the EFF’s counsel Tembeka Ngcukaitobi said the EFF’s estimate was that it was closer to R32m.
Arguments continued on Tuesday.