Former president Jacob Zuma has been ordered to personally pay the legal costs for trying to block the release of the State of Capture report.
The Presidency formally ditched its bid to appeal against Zuma’s personal cost order yesterday, saying that it no longer represents him. If Zuma wants to avoid coughing up for his legal bills, he can still fight the order, but he will have to do it in a personal capacity.
Judge President Dunstan Mlambo accepted the Presidency’s withdrawal in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Wednesday. Zuma was not represented in court in this latest sitting in the ongoing legal saga surrounding his effort to suppress Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture report.
It recently emerged in Parliament that the Justice Department has paid over R24 million in legal costs for Zuma, over the course of five court cases since 2009. Justice Minister Michael Masutha revealed in answer to a Parliamentary question that the total amount is R24 240 201,54.
Last year, the Presidency applied to appeal the personal costs order that had been granted against then-president Jacob Zuma for costs incurred in the State of Capture report matter. However, now that Cyril Ramaphosa is president, the Presidency has formally withdrawn this application, saying that it no longer represents Zuma.
“Take further notice that with regards to the appeal on the issue of the punitive costs‚ the current president is not liable in that the punitive costs were against the former president in his personal capacity and, as such, we do not purport to act on the former president’s behalf in this notice‚” Ramaphosa’s lawyers stated.
Zuma will still be able to continue the appeal through the Constitutional Court or Supreme Court of Appeal, but in a personal capacity rather than through the office of the Presidency. Reports suggest that he is busy assembling a new legal team to fight the order, and a private firm of attorneys has confirmed that they are acting on his behalf. They have asked for time until 15 May to file a private application to appeal.
In a separate case, Zuma has also indicated that he will fight a court bid to cut his legal funding from the State. The DA is opposing a 2006 deal that had the State funding all of Zuma’s legal costs.