Lawyers dump Zuma ahead of Concourt appeal of personal costs order
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Johannesburg - Another law firm has dumped former president Jacob Zuma ahead of his Constitutional Court appeal of the personal costs order granted against him by the North Gauteng High Court in December 2017.
A full bench of the high court – Gauteng Judge President Dunstan Mlambo, Judges Phillip Boruchowitz and Wendy Hughes – ordered Zuma to pay the legal costs in his personal capacity during his unsuccessful bid to have ex-Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's “State of Capture” report reviewed and set aside.
Johannesburg-based Kgoroeadira Mudau Inc., which Zuma appointed only in December, has informed the apex court that it is withdrawing from representing the former president.
At the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA), which dismissed Zuma's bid to overturn the high court order in October, the ex-president was represented by Lugisani Mantsha Attorneys, who have since had his mandate terminated.
Eric Mabuza Attorneys, the law firm which was expected to represent Zuma in his looming fraud, corruption and money laundering criminal trial later this month, has also withdrawn from representing the former ANC leader.
Kgoroeadira Mudau Inc. director Rapulane Kgoroeadira confirmed that his law firm had withdrawn from representing Zuma at the Constitutional Court.
He said there was nothing acrimonious about the withdrawal but would not say whether it was related to money due to attorney-client privilege.
Legal expert Advocate Mfesane Ka-Siboto told Independent Media that Zuma was allowed to represent himself from the magistrate’s court to the apex court, should he not find a legal representative.
However, Ka-Siboto warned that such a move would be difficult due to the complexity of the matter.
“I doubt he would do that but you are entitled to,” he explained.
Ka-Siboto added that another option would be to withdraw the matter between now and the hearing or it would be struck off the roll if he or his legal representatives do not appear before the Constitutional Court.
In his application, Zuma states that the apex court must determine whether or not he should be held personally liable for costs on a punitive or any scale incurred in the pursuit of his constitutional duties to challenge Madonsela’s remedial action relating to his exercise of constitutional functions to appoint Cabinet ministers.
Zuma wants the Constitutional Court to determine whether Madonsela had the power to remove a sitting president’s constitutional function of appointing a judicial commission of inquiry and delegate it to Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.
In her report, Madonsela said Chief Justice Mogoeng should appoint the judge to head the commission of inquiry into state capture.
“I am further advised that the discretion exercised in granting the punitive costs order against me in my personal capacity for decisions that I took and which related to a matter that I thought raised constitutional issues of constitutional significance,” Zuma states in his affidavit.
Zuma further states: “The award of a punitive costs order against me was incorrect, given the fact that I was acting as the president who was concerned about the constitutionality of the remedial action.”
He said Madonsela’s remedial action effectively took away the constitutional powers vested in the president and gave them to the judiciary, a move he described as a novel point.
“I submit that I was not reckless or negligent in approaching the court to settle this point,” Zuma explained.
The DA, which is opposing Zuma’s application for leave to appeal, said the former president’s bid is without merit.
“It is a transparent attempt to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the state capture commission that Zuma has been trying to avoid,” DA attorney Elzanne Jonker said in the official opposition’s answering affidavit.
The EFF accused Zuma, through a media statement released by his foundation, of launching scurrilous, vexatious, defamatory attack on the SCA.
“The statement means, and was intended to mean that the SCA judges who ruled against Zuma were driven, not by law, but by political considerations,” EFF attorney Angelike Charalambous states in the party’s answering affidavit.
The EFF said the statement is intended as Zuma’s political defence and that he has not dissociated himself from it.
“He must be taken to fully associate himself with the scurrilous, unfounded and defamatory attacks on the judiciary. It is therefore submitted that there should be a punitive costs order issued by this court as a mark of grave displeasure,” reads the EFF’s affidavit.
The EFF wants Zuma’s application for leave to appeal to be dismissed with costs and that he must pay personally.
“This application is yet another attempt to abuse this court’s process to escape accountability. Only this court can bring this abuse to an end,” the EFF added.
Zuma’s application is set down for May 27.