President Jacob Zuma has been served with court papers regarding his failure to answer a parliamentary question put to him by Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane about how much public money has been spent on him avoiding the 783 charges of fraud, corruption, and racketeering against him, the DA said on Sunday.

“By avoiding the question, the DA believes that both the president and the Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli, presiding at the time who allowed President Zuma to avoid the question, acted unlawfully and unconstitutionally,” DA federal council chairman James Selfe said.

For more than eight years, taxpayers’ money had been used to pay for President Zuma’s legal costs in the so-called “Spy-Tapes” case. Given that the taxpayer had most likely footed the bill for President Zuma’s legal costs, the full amount spent should be revealed in the public interest, he said.

The question posed was specific and straightforward, yet President Zuma steadfastly refused to answer and the deputy speaker refused to require him to answer it.

 Sections 42 (3) and 55 of the Constitution set out that the National Assembly had a responsibility to hold the executive to account, and that it should provide mechanisms to ensure accountability.

The National Assembly rules set out how often the president should appear to answer questions and the executive ethics code made it clear, in its general standards, that members of the executive had to adhere to certain standards and that no member could mislead those who they were accountable to, Selfe said.

Both the president and the deputy speaker had failed in their responsibility to uphold the Constitution and to account properly.

“The DA have therefore asked the court to direct the president to confirm in writing to the National Assembly the total amount spent on all legal costs in respect of the decision by the National Prosecuting Authority to drop 783 counts of fraud, corruption, and racketeering against him, within five days,” Selfe said.