Dine and duck: Zuma doesn't want to pay state capture bill
He told the North Gauteng High Court that paying legal fees will be a 'significant financial burden'
Former president Jacob Zuma has suggested his successor Cyril Ramaphosa was wrong not to appeal the state capture report judgments that order Zuma to personally pay the estimated R10-million legal fees attached to the cases.
Zuma says he believes the North Gauteng High Court is unfairly “punishing me” for seeking to challenge former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture report, despite his continued belief that he was correct in doing so.
“I would have liked to intervene way before the application for leave to appeal was withdrawn by the Office of the President of the Republic of South Africa. That I do not agree with the withdrawal of the application for leave to appeal by the current president is not relevant for present purposes,” Zuma stated in an affidavit filed at the North Gauteng High Court.
According to Zuma, being forced to pay the legal costs of the state capture cases “poses a significant financial burden on me personally”.
The North Gauteng High Court found that Zuma should be held personally liable for the costs because he had “recklessly” litigated.
Zuma vehemently denies this.
He strongly believes there are grounds for Ramaphosa to challenge Madonsela’s report, but adds: “I am advised that it would be improper for me to now second-guess the decision of the president in this regard.”
Zuma wants the right to appeal the two state capture judgments – which concern his aborted bid to block the release of Madonsela’s report and his later failed bid to review that same report – in his personal capacity, and has applied for the right to do so.
The former president has denied that his legal challenges to the report were driven by his own personal interests because he, his son Duduzane and his friends, the Gupta family, were all implicated in wrongdoing by Madonsela.Instead, he says he had “serious concerns about the constitutionality and/or lawfulness of the remedial action imposed by the public protector”. In particular he had concerns about her order that Zuma should not be responsible for appointing the judge who would preside over a judicial inquiry into state capture.
According to Zuma, he felt that this remedial action amounted to a “usurpation and/or undermining of the president’s constitutional powers and functions” and a “violation and/or trespassing of the separation of powers doctrine”. He believes Madonsela was wrong to “impose remedial action before the investigation was complete” and accuses her of exercising powers in her report that “I believed she did not have”.
“An incorrect impression was created that I was either delaying or avoiding the establishment of a commission of inquiry. That has never been my intention,” he says.
Zuma maintains that he decided to act on Madonsela’s remedial action and establish an inquiry into state capture – after earlier indicating that he would appeal a judgment endorsing that remedial action – “for certainty in the country and in order to avoid the perception that I was preventing the establishment of the commission for my personal interests”.
“I did not do so because I had changed my mind about my concerns about the remedial action or the constitutionality thereof,” he says.
Zuma says he was “neither informed nor consulted” by Ramaphosa about the president’s decision to withdraw his state capture appeal applications.
Zuma is set to appear in the Durban High Court on Friday in relation to corruption and fraud chargers linked to the controversial Arms Deal.