A report by News24 after an interview with former president Jacob Zuma’s lawyer Michael Hulley suggests “uncertainty” around who is paying Zuma’s legal fees in his corruption trial is making it difficult for him to retain the services of his advocates.
Hulley said he was personally still working for the president.
Zuma’s corruption trial resumes in the high court in Durban on June 8. It is related to the arms deal. He was initially charged with corruption, money laundering and racketeering in 2005 before charges were dropped in 2009. They have since been reinstated.
In March, a signed fax emerged from 2006 apparently showing that Zuma undertook to pay his own legal fees, but only in the event that he loses his corruption case.
The matter of who should pay for Zuma’s legal fees came to the forefront after President Cyril Ramaphosa revealed that Zuma’s legal defence had cost taxpayers R15.3 million to date. The president added that the state would continue to pay Zuma’s fees until the “fees deal” covering the former president has been set aside by a court.
Ramaphosa explained that the deal that was struck between then president Thabo Mbeki and Zuma in 2006 had been based on the provisions of the State Attorney Act. It apparently continues to be in force.
The DA then announced it would approach the court to set aside the decision to allow taxpayers’ money to be used to pay Zuma’s legal fees in this manner.
Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko said in response that “the president will await the court challenge, look at the merits and then take a decision based on that”.