Zuma’s court dates pile up as wheels of justice grind on
Former president claims he's being punished for standing up to the public protector, and cannot afford his legal bills
Former president Jacob Zuma is in court again next month to fight an order that he personally pay the R10m spent on legal fees fighting the public protector’s state capture report.
As Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo’s commission of inquiry into state capture continued this week, Zuma’s lawyers were preparing to argue in court that he should not be held liable for his failed court action against the report that ultimately led to the creation of the Zondo commission.
Zuma failed to persuade the high court in Pretoria last December that he should be responsible for choosing the judge who would lead the state capture inquiry. He was arguing against the public protector’s report, which recommended that Zuma should not appoint the judge because he himself was implicated in state capture.
The court not only dismissed his move as “reckless”, it also ordered him to foot the legal bill.
Now his lawyers are seeking leave to appeal that high court ruling.
Zuma denied that his legal challenges to the public protector’s report were driven by his own personal interests. Instead, he had “serious concerns about the lawfulness of the remedial action imposed by the public protector” – in particular her order that Zuma should not be responsible for appointing the judge who would preside over a judicial inquiry into state capture.“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,” Zuma said in court papers filed in June.
Zuma denies that he litigated recklessly in the state capture matters, saying the court was unfairly punishing him 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.
According to Zuma, being forced to pay the legal costs places a significant financial burden on him.
His leave to appeal application, to be heard on September 20, is being opposed by the Economic Freedom Fighters, the Democratic Alliance and several other opposition parties and legal rights organisations.
Zuma’s lawyers will also be in court in November, to fight for him to continue receiving state funding for his defence costs in his corruption trial. That case will be heard on November 6 and 7, just more than a week before Zuma’s lawyers will file an application for the corruption case against him to be permanently stayed.