Once again, Zuma to pay back the money

President Cyril Ramaphosa confirmed in the National Assembly on Thursday a total of R15.3-million was spent by government on Zuma’s “personal legal costs” since 2006. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

President Cyril Ramaphosa confirmed in the National Assembly on Thursday a total of R15.3-million was spent by government on Zuma’s “personal legal costs” since 2006. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

Former president Jacob Zuma has signed an agreement with the state to repay public funds spent on his various legal battles in the event he is found guilty of the charges levelled against him.

President Cyril Ramaphosa confirmed in the National Assembly on Thursday a total of R15.3-million was spent by government on Zuma’s “personal legal costs” since 2006.

The president said that R7.5-million was spent in the period of 2006 to 2009, which was when the spy tapes charges against Zuma were withdrawn.

From 2009, the state spent R7.8-million on Zuma’s legal fees after he asked that government cover his expenses.

“This stems from a request by the former president in 2006 for legal representation at state expense in respect of the criminal proceedings,” Ramaphosa said.

“The request was approved by the Presidency based on advice by the state attorney’s office and the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (as it was then),” he continued.

Ramaphosa said that Zuma was willing to pay back the state funds after an agreement was signed in “good faith”, that stated any government funds spent on his court cases would be repaid if Zuma lost the case.

“The former President signed an undertaking to refund the state if he was found to have acted in his personal capacity and own interests in the commission of the offences with which he was charged,” he said.

“We entered this agreement with good faith with the understanding that as he contracts with the state and, in the case that he loses the case, he pays back the money. We did not sign a guarantee.”

There have been calls for Zuma to return the money from his various court cases. Currently, the former president is waiting to see if the National Prosecuting Authority will charge him with corruption in relation to the arms deal saga and he has an appeal lodged against the Pretoria high court judgement on the public protector’s ‘State of Capture’ report. 

Ra'eesa Pather

Ra'eesa Pather

Ra’eesa Pather is a general news journalist with the Mail & Guardian’s online team. She cut her teeth at The Daily Vox in Cape Town before moving to Johannesburg and joining the M&G. She's written about memory, race and gender in columns and features, and has dabbled in photography. Read more from Ra'eesa Pather

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