Cape Town - Taxpayers will now have to fork out even more money to pay for Jacob Zuma's legal fees. Less than a month after firing his long-time lawyer Michael Hulley, the former president has assembled a brand new legal team that even bigger and more expensive than his previous team.
Hulley had represented Zuma in a number of criminal and civil cases and the news of the termination of his services earlier this month came after weeks of speculation that over who would be paying his fees.
According to the Democratic Alliance, the new legal team costs almost R300 000 per day in fees and by the time Zuma's corruption trial resumes in November the cost is expected to be in the millions. The party has called on president Cyril Ramaphosa to cancel an agreement to pay Zuma's legal costs.
"Due to a long-standing agreement that the State will pay for Jacob Zuma’s legal fees, the ANC government will be picking the pockets of South Africans in order to fund Zuma’s legal defence team. This shows that the ANC is not committed to rooting out corruption. Instead, they want South Africans to pay to keep Jacob Zuma out of prison. The longer the ANC stays in power, the more our country will suffer from the rot of corruption," DA leader Mmusi Maimane said.
"Zuma’s use of public money to fund his defence has allowed him to pursue the “delay at any cost” strategy that has helped him avoid a trial for nearly a decade. Now that even the “delay at all costs” strategy is reaching its end, he is hiring more lawyers, firing old ones, and trying to find any reason to delay further — all the time while South Africans keep funding it."
The DA filed papers with the North Gauteng High Court in March asking that the agreement between the Presidency and Zuma to cover legal costs incurred by him for his criminal prosecution be reviewed, declared invalid and set aside. The party further asked that court order that R15.3 million already spent on paying for Zuma's past criminal and civil proceedings be refunded.
"The public should not pay one further cent towards Zuma’s legal fees. We believe that the agreement that the ANC government reached with Zuma to cover his costs is illegal. It has no basis in law, and should be scrapped immediately," Maimane said.
Zuma is expected to appear in court on July 27 in connection to the 16 corruption charges against him.