Former President Jacob Zuma. File picture: Themba Hadebe/AP

CAPE TOWN - The Democratic Alliance has urged President Cyril Ramaphosa to instruct the state attorney to oppose former president Jacob Zuma’s application for a permanent stay of prosecution.

"It is unconscionable, and unacceptable that the presidency has agreed to pay for Jacob Zuma’s legal costs for his participation in the Zondo Commission [into state capture] on top of the costs for his criminal defence that the State already pays," DA leader Mmusi Maimane said on Sunday.

"How long will this government make the public pay for Zuma? Ramaphosa should cut off this obscene funding immediately, and in fact the president should be opposing Zuma’s application for a permanent stay of prosecution," he said.

If Ramaphosa was serious about showing real commitment to fighting corruption, there was no way that he should be allowing the public to carry the cost of Zuma’s legal defence - this was a corruption tax on the public. Ramaphosa should be using the Zuma case as an opportunity to demonstrate that no one was above the law in South Africa.

"He should instruct the state attorney to oppose Zuma’s application for a stay of prosecution. The DA calls on Ramaphosa to do so. Regardless of whether the president rises to the occasion or not, the DA will not let Jacob Zuma get away with corruption. We have instructed our lawyers to begin the process of joining the case as an interested party to oppose Zuma’s application for a permanent stay of prosecution," Maimane said.

Zuma had been running from charges of fraud, money laundering, racketeering, and corruption for a decade. Every day justice was postponed was another day justice was denied for almost 60 million South Africans.

The state was not a bail out bank for corrupt politicians. The DA would ensure that anyone found guilty of corruption spent a minimum of 15 years behind bars.

"We will never be able to build One SA for All so long so as we are governed by presidents who think that they are above the law. President Ramaphosa must decide whether his fealty lies with Zuma or the people of South Africa," Maimane said.

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African News Agency (ANA)