Zuma accuses state of legal fee payment inconsistencies

Jacob Zuma
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Former President Jacob Zuma has accused the state of being inconsistent by paying legal fees for apartheid-era generals while refusing to fund his legal battles.

Earlier in December, a full bench of the Pretoria High Court, led by Deputy Judge President Aubrey Ledwaba, ruled that Zuma is not entitled to state funding in his legal battle. The court upheld the application by the Democratic Alliance (DA) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) to set aside an earlier agreement by the Presidency authorising state funding for Zuma’s defence in criminal cases.

For almost 13 years, Zuma has been in and out of the courts on charges relating to the state’s arms acquisition in the 1990s. His legal fees are now running into millions of rands and the EFF and DA have successfully applied in court to have him carry the cost.

In the past, several officials of the apartheid government including former Law and Order Minister Adriaan Vlok, Police General Johann Van der Merwe and Defence Minister Magnus Malan among others, were helped by the state in their cases. And now the former president accuses government and the judiciary of inconsistency, saying the apartheid killers were defended by the democratic government, while it is letting those who fought for democracy fend for themselves.

His sentiments were echoed by Black First Land First President Andile Mngxitama, who says the former president is treated shabbily by his government and the judiciary because he is seen as championing the cause of landless people.

Political analyst Ralph Mathekga says former President Zuma’s argument is problematic as he is comparing different cases that are not totally related. He says allegations of corruption against Zuma in the Arms Deal did nothing to the benefit of the state or the country, while the apartheid-era generals can claim that they carried out those atrocities on behalf of the apartheid government and therefore clinched a deal with the state for legal funding in their cases.

Professor Tinyiko Maluleke says President Zuma is wrong to compare crimes committed under apartheid and those committed in the democratic era. He says it is also unfair of Zuma to say the state is refusing to pay for him, insisting that in fact it was only after the DA and the EFF had applied to have his funding stopped.

The case against Zuma will be back in court from 20 to 23 May 2019. Both Zuma and his co-accused arms company, Thint, will then argue for the charges against them to be permanently dropped when they apply for a permanent stay of prosecution.