In a statement on Monday morning, DA leader Mmusi Maimane said that President Cyril Ramaphosa should use his reported upcoming meeting with his predecessor, Jacob Zuma, to discuss the latter’s legal fees.
He said Ramaphosa should make it clear that the taxpayer would no longer be footing the bill after a court ruling last year judged that the deal Zuma had agreed with then president Thabo Mbeki in 2006 for paying his legal fees was invalid.
Maimane said the proposed meeting presented Ramaphosa with an “opportune moment to cancel the illegal deal struck between the Presidency and Jacob Zuma that forces the public to foot the bill for Jacob Zuma’s legal fees”.
He said he had written to Ramaphosa, requesting that, on behalf of the nation, he “does the right thing and cancel the deal with immediate effect, and to communicate this with Mr Zuma when they meet face to face”.
“Cyril Ramaphosa’s forked tongue approach to corruption must come to an end. He cannot talk seriously about tackling corruption in his party and in his government, and at the same time continue to allow public money to be used to fund Jacob Zuma’s decade-long plan to escape accountability. He must choose. And he should choose to cancel this illegitimate agreement.
“The DA has always maintained it was wrong of President Thabo Mbeki to decide that the public should pay for Zuma’s legal fees, and we argued that President Ramaphosa should have cancelled this illegal deal immediately. Cancelling this deal would represent a clean break with South Africa’s damaging and frustrating past. It would send a clear message to the nation that public money will no longer be abused for personal ends, and that all South Africans – including public representatives – will be equal before the law going forward.”
Last month, in a case brought by the DA, the High Court in Pretoria ruled that the state may not pay Zuma’s fees, and they were instead for Mr Zuma’s own account.
The DA says their lawyers have been informed that Zuma would seek leave to appeal this judgment, which the DA would oppose.
“It is therefore urgent that this deal between Zuma and the Presidency be cancelled before the former President wastes any more of public money to fund his antics.
“President Ramaphosa’s administration has already increased VAT, sin tax, sugar tax and the price of fuel – all of which hit the poor hardest. It is grossly unfair to expect struggling South Africans to continue to pay for a former President’s attempts to avoid accountability.
“As long as the ANC remain in power, their system of corruption will continue to steal from the pockets of all South Africans. We must reject this and elect a DA government that has zero tolerance for corruption – where politicians found guilty of corruption will spend a minimum of 15 years in jail.”
(Compiled by Charles Cilliers)