The Democratic Alliance’s (DA) application in the Pretoria High Court to review and set aside the agreement between the Presidency and former President Jacob Zuma to cover his legal costs, has been adjourned till Wednesday.
This is after the DA and Economic Freedom Fighter (EFF) lawyers concluded their arguments.
The opposition parties filed papers in late March, asking the court to set aside a 2006 agreement the Presidency had signed over legal costs Zuma incurred for his criminal prosecution.
The DA’s lawyer, Adv Sean Rosenberg commenced arguments by detailing events from as far back as 2005. Costs in dispute here relate to Zuma’s spy tapes and the money laundering and racketeering cases.
In one of these cases, government has confirmed that it has already paid Zuma’s legal fees amounting to more than 15-million for matters that are personal.
“In the present matter, we know that government was not a party to the criminal proceedings. It was Zuma in his personal capacity who was the accused in those proceedings and that reason alone we would submit that the state’s attorney, where the state’s attorney acts in terms of Section 3.2, the state’s attorney is acting in circumstances where government is a party to the action,” says Rosenberg.
Advocate Rosenberg further argued against Zuma’s submission that the application is late. Zuma’s lawyers have argued that the DA should have brought the application when the matters were still being dealt with.
Rosenberg says because the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) withdrew charges against Zuma in 2009, there was no basis to proceed with an application of this nature.
“The DA couldn’t have been reasonably expected to review a decision at all effective purposes has lapsed, I mean overtaken with the withdrawal of charges in 2009 and when the DA learnt that in fact in the wake of re-indictment in March 2018. What the president’s attitude towards funding was it wasted no time in launching this application,” says Rosenberg.
Advocate Thembeka Ngcukaitobi, arguing on behalf of the EFF, says individuals acting on behalf of government are liable for costs of any illegal activity they may have committed in pursuit of their duties.
Ngcukaitobi says the alleged offences committed by former president Jacob Zuma were not state related.
Ngcukaitobi argues that the Public Finance Management Act was not followed in approving payment of Zuma’s legal fees.
“But again we’re provided with absolutely no facts by the only person who could help the court. So we will submit to this court that legally as well as factually the PFMA case is unanswerable. Mr Zuma like all of us must be treated equally, but what is apparent from what we’ve seen so far is that there has been an element of favouritism, that Zuma has been treated better,” says Ngcukaitobi.
Zuma’s lawyer, Thabani Masuku, argues that the DA and the EFF’s application to review and set aside the agreement between the Presidency and former President Jacob Zuma to cover his legal costs should not be considered by the court as the matter has already been dealt with in the past.
Masuku was replying to DA’s lawyer Rosenberg and the EFF’s Ngcukaitobi, who were arguing that Zuma must pay his legal fees from his own pocket. Masuku argues that the matter has already been decided and there is no merit to this application.
“And the Presidency actually says you know this case comes 14 years down the line. We’ve been looking for documents here, we even ask Hulley to help us to look for the documents. He can’t find them because the application is brought 14 years down the line and so the documents are not exactly available to tell a full story,” says Masuku.