Opposition piles pressure on Zuma over legal funding

Thursday May 17 2018

South African President Jacob Zuma

South African ex-president Jacob Zuma. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Former South Africa President Jacob Juma’s legal fight against corruption charges may be in jeopardy with his funding under threat.

Opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), was now demanding that Mr Zuma's attorney, Mr Michael Hulley, be ordered to pay back close to $2.5 million (R32m) taxpayers money spent on the former president’s defence for the past 12 years.

The National Prosecuting Authority on Wednesday confirmed that Mr Zuma missed his own deadline to challenge the decision by the prosecutor to pursue the corruption case against him.

Public money

EFF leader Julius Malema said the party was challenging a decision by the State Attorney "to pay unlimited amounts of public money to a private attorneys" for a politician facing charges of corruption and other offences.

It has emerged that payments in excess of $2.5 million have been made so far‚ and more were expected to be made in the future‚ Mr Malema said.

He added that those payments were unlawful and believes that the charges Mr Zuma faced had nothing to do with his official functions and he was not entitled to state funding of his defence.

The firebrand leader further argued that Mr Zuma’s multimillion-rand legal funding violated the principle of equality before the law‚ as ordinary people facing prosecution would never have been able to spend 12 years fighting the state with unlimited taxpayers’ money.

EFF is seeking an order that both Mr Zuma and Mr Hulley pay back the money spent on the legal costs within six months — plus interest.

The corruption

Another opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), has already launched a review of the 2006 decision to fund Mr Zuma’s defence against the corruption case and wants him to be ordered to pay back what has already been spent on his so-called Stalingrad legal campaign to avoid prosecution.

Mr Zuma stepped down from office in February, following pressure from his party and the opposition. He was replaced by President Cyril Ramaphosa, who will lead the ruling African National Congress’s (ANC) charge in the 2019 General Election.