Jacob Zuma's legal team: Eric Mabuza in, Dan Mantsha out
UPDATED: With his next Pietermaritzburg High Court appearance looming on May 6 and running out of legal options to quash his arms deal corruption charges, former President Jacob Zuma has announced a surprise change to his legal team.
In the announcement made on Sunday through the Jacob Zuma Foundation, the former president has terminated the mandate of Daniel Mantsha who has been his attorney of record since 2018.
The place of Mantsha will be taken by Eric Mabuza, a Johannesburg based attorney who in the past had represented former Old Mutual boss Peter Moyo, and former South African Revenue Services (SARS) head Tom Moyane.
In the statement announcing the sudden changes, the foundation said Zuma has unfortunately felt that he must, for his own best interests, part ways with Mantsha who runs Johannesburg-based law firm, Lugisani Mantsha Attorneys.
"Former President Zuma has unfortunately come to the conclusion that it is in his best interests to part ways with Mr Mantsha at this stage so that he can focus more on the preparation for the trial. He has appointed as his new attorneys of record, Mabuza Attorney (Eric Mabuza) who will accordingly be responsible for all preparation for the former President Zuma’s much awaited trial," reads the statement.
Despite the changes, Zuma will retain his other legal eagle, Advocate Muzi Sikhakhane,SC, who has been leading his legal team while fighting to quash the corruption charges and while appearing before the Zondo commission probing allegations of state capture during his presidency between 2009 and 2018.
"Former President Zuma has, however, retained the services of Advocate Muzi Sikhakhane,SC, as the lead counsel in the matter and expresses his unreserved trust and confidence in him and his team of counsel.
“Sikhakhane,SC has also been briefed to assemble a multi-skilled legal team that will advise and assist former President Zuma in preparing for the biggest trial of his life and to dispel the much repeated and tired narrative that seeks to suggest that in previously exercising his rights, former President Zuma sought to avoid his day in court or was adopting what the state calls ‘Stalingrad’ tactics," it added.
The bolstering of the legal team is expected to help Zuma to fend off his long-drawn out arms deal corruption case which he is currently trying to get quashed at the Constitutional Court after the Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed his appeal without even hearing it saying it had no prospect of success.