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Johannesburg - The government shelled out R2.3 million to cover the costs of President Jacob Zuma’s lawyer, Michael Hulley, in fighting the DA’s application for the release of the so-called spy tapes.
This brings the known cost of defending the matter to R3.6m, after it was revealed earlier that the state had paid R1.3m in the same case.
It was a “staggering abuse of power”, DA federal executive chairman James Selfe said on Friday.
He asked Zuma, in a parliamentary question, whether any private legal practitioners had been used on his behalf in the case and, if so, why the state attorney had not been used.
In his reply yesterday, Zuma confirmed that Hulley & Associates had been paid R2.337m.
“The reason for not employing the state attorney is that a conflict of interest would have arisen if the state attorney represented both the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the president,” Zuma said.
Selfe called this “sophistry at its best”.
“Since when can’t a state attorney represent two parts of the government in the same matter?” he asked.
“It’s extremely lucrative work for Mr Hulley, because Mr Hulley is now also Zuma’s special adviser,” he said, referring to an earlier reply from Zuma in which he said Hulley was employed on a part-time basis as his special adviser – at a rate of R693.77 an hour.
“Not only does he get private work, he gets public work,” Selfe said.
He explained that the figure of R1.3m provided by Zuma in another reply on the costs of the matter was the sum paid to the DA by the state attorney after it was awarded costs in a case lost by the state.
The issue has dragged on for four years, after the DA first brought an application for the NPA’s 2009 decision to drop fraud and corruption charges against Zuma – relating to the arms deal – to be reviewed by the courts.
The dropping of the charges cleared the way for Zuma to become president following elections shortly after.
In March last year, the Supreme Court of Appeal ordered the NPA to produce the “reduced record” relating to its decision to drop the charges.
However, it excluded from its order Zuma’s confidential representations to the NPA for the charges to be dropped.
In August, the Pretoria High Court ordered the NPA to abide by last year’s Supreme Court of Appeal order for it to produce the tapes, after it failed to do so.
Zuma was granted leave to appeal the Pretoria court’s ruling in September and it will now be heard again in the Supreme Court of Appeal.
Zuma’s spokesman, Mac Maharaj, could not be reached for comment.