President responds to DA request for information

Friday, March 23, 2018

President Cyril Ramaphosa has instructed the State Attorney to furnish the Democratic Alliance (DA) with information pertaining to a decision taken by former President Jacob Zuma to have the State foot the bill for his legal fees.  

The DA, which intends to take the former President to court over the decision, had requested information from the Presidency on how the decision was taken.

The Presidency says its office is bound by the earlier decisions of its predecessors and as such, has to pay for Zuma’s legal fees.

“Due to the fact that Presidents, who came after the undertaking was signed, are the successor in title in the President’s office, they assume the obligation created in the undertaking.

“The Presidency is therefore bound by that decision and must continue paying for Mr Zuma’s legal fees on the basis that it undertook to do so until such time as the decision is reviewed and set aside by a court,” said the Presidency in a statement.

During his tenure, the former President made a request for the State to cover the costs of his legal fees.

According to information sought by the President from the State Attorney, the decision to provide legal representation to former President Zuma at State expense was taken in accordance with section 3(1) of the State Attorney Act 56 of 1957 in 2006.

It was based on advice from the then Chief State Law Advisor, Director-General in the Department of Justice, the Minister of Justice and the State Attorney, who all recommended the provision of legal representation at State expense under section 3 of the State Attorney Act.

The only exception to the payment of the former President’s legal fees was that he would refund the legal costs incurred by the State in the event that his defence was unsuccessful.

“While it has not been possible to locate a written agreement between the Presidency and Mr Zuma in this respect, the Presidency does have copies of undertakings signed by Mr Zuma on 22 August 2006 and 26 September 2008,” said the Presidency.

Meanwhile, President Ramaphosa has reiterated that his administration is guided by the fundamental principle that public money should not be used to cover the legal expenses of individuals on strictly personal matters or who are found to have committed criminal offences. –

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