President Cyril Ramaphosa has been given until Thursday to revoke Jacob Zuma’s “deal” on state-funded legal fees or face court action.
Both the DA and EFF have requested a copy of the deal concluded 12 years ago between Zuma and former president Thabo Mbeki, which has already cost taxpayers R32.4-million revealed in parliamentary answers.
The parties will argue that Zuma does not qualify for state legal funding because the crimes he is accused of were not committed in his official capacity but in his personal interest.
The DA told Ramaphosa it would take him to court if the deal were not revoked. Its application is expected to be flagged as urgent because Zuma’s first court appearance is expected within two weeks.
“Former president Zuma was, at all relevant times, cited in his capacity as an ordinary citizen and not in his official capacity,” the party’s attorneys told Ramaphosa on Wednesday after his disclosure that the state had spent R15.3-million fighting Zuma’s “spy tapes” litigation alone.
“Kindly explain on what basis he would have been entitled to expect his legal fees to be paid by the state and/or Presidency and/or Treasury.”
The lawyers reminded Ramaphosa that Zuma and the National Prosecuting Authority had conceded in the Supreme Court of Appeal that there was “no merit” in their attempts to fight the DA’s challenge to the decision not to prosecute Zuma.
Analysts believe that a particular difficulty Ramaphosa will face in defending continued legal funding is that all of Zuma’s court actions have ended in failure.
DA lawyers have also asked Ramaphosa for proof that Zuma agreed to repay the money spent on his defence if he was found to have acted “in his personal capacity and own interests in the commission of the offences with which he was charged”.
Ramaphosa’s spokeswoman, Khusela Diko, has claimed the Zuma fees deal was concluded in line with provisions of the State Attorney Act. But DA lawyers are not convinced the act provides a clear basis for the “fees deal” to continue.
“The attorney of former president Zuma was not the state attorney but Michael Hulley, of Hulley and Associates, a private law firm. On what basis is it alleged that this practice is subject to the provisions of the State Attorney Act?” the DA asked.