/ 17 April 2018

Justice dept paid R24m for Zuma’s legal costs – Masutha

Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Michael Masutha.
Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Michael Masutha.

One of the enduring mysteries of the Jacob Zuma administration has been cleared up: Zuma’s legal costs while president amounted to at least R24-million, Justice Minister Michael Masutha has revealed in a parliamentary answer.

Last year in Parliament, Zuma refused to answer questions about his legal costs, and told the National Council of Provinces it was “not [his] problem”.

READ MORE: Zuma runs out of legal road – and public money to build more of it

Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Groenewald asked Masutha if “his department has paid any legal costs since 2009 in cases in which the former President of South Africa was involved”, and what it cost.

Masutha listed five cases, costing R 24 240 201.54.

“The fact that Zuma did not win one of these cases, serves as proof that taxpayers’ money was wasted to keep him out of trouble,” Groenewald said in a statement.

According to Groenewald’s information, the case where the National Prosecuting Authority obtained a search warrant for the offices of Thint/Thales, as well as a letter to the authorities in Mauritius to obtain documents, was opposed by Zuma at the cost of R15.3-million.

“This case was taken to the Constitutional Court and was lost by Zuma. It is the only matter that was finalised,” he said.

‘Minister was trying to protect Zuma’

The case where Zuma questioned the constitutional powers of the Public Protector, after former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela reported on Nkandla, had cost R3.2-million, and Zuma had used five advocates.

He said the case, where Zuma had tried to prevent Madonsela from releasing her report on state capture, had cost R2.5-million, and Zuma had used three advocates.

Zuma’s appeal against the Democratic Alliance’s request to make known his reasons for firing former ministers of finance Pravin Gordhan and Nhlanhla Nene had cost R1.2-million. This case will be heard on May 2 in the Supreme Court of Appeals.

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Groenewald said he had posed the question to Masutha in November last year, but Masutha had not responded. Groenewald repeated the question, which told him that “the minister was trying to protect him [Zuma] while he was still president”. The FF Plus’s view is that Zuma should pay his own legal costs.

Groenewald’s statement was released on the same day that Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane told Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Justice that her office had spent R15-million in legal costs, battling judicial reviews of Public Protector reports.

This information also comes at a time when the DA is waging a battle to compel Zuma to personally pay the costs of the legal wrangles of the spy tape saga. – News24