NEWS & ANALYSIS

Ramaphosa must cancel Zuma’s legal fees deal - Mmusi Maimane

DA leader says President's forked tongue approach to corruption must come to an end

Ramaphosa must cancel multimillion-rand deal to pay for Jacob Zuma’s legal fees

Reports yesterday suggest that ANC President, Cyril Ramaphosa, is set to meet face to face with his predecessor, Jacob Zuma, to address an array of matters which includes Zuma’s upcoming corruption court case. For over 10 years, the people of South Africa have been forced to pay for Zuma’s legal fees in his guileful bid to avoid jail for over 783 counts of fraud, corruption and racketeering.

This proposed meeting presents Ramaphosa with an opportune moment to cancel the illegal deal struck between the Presidency and Jacob Zuma that forces the public to foot the bill for Jacob Zuma’s legal fees.

I have today written to President Ramaphosa, requesting that on behalf of the nation, he does the right thing and cancel the deal with immediate effect, and to communicate this with Mr Zuma when they meet face to face.

Cyril Ramaphosa’s forked tongue approach to corruption must come to an end. He cannot talk seriously about tackling corruption in his party and in his government, and at the same time continue to allow public money to be used to fund Jacob Zuma's decade-long plan to escape accountability. He must choose. And he should choose to cancel this illegitimate agreement.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has always maintained it was wrong of President Thabo Mbeki to decide that the public should pay for Zuma’s legal fees, and we argued that President Ramaphosa should have cancelled this illegal deal immediately. Cancelling this deal would represent a clean break with South Africa’s damaging and frustrating past. It would send a clear message to the nation that public money will no longer be abused for personal ends, and that all South Africans – including public representatives – will be equal before the law going forward.

Last month, in a case brought by the Democratic Alliance, the North Gauteng High Court ruled that the state may not pay these fees, and that they are instead for Mr Zuma’s own account. Our lawyers have been informed that Zuma will seek leave to appeal this judgement which the DA will oppose. It is therefore urgent that this deal between Zuma and the Presidency be cancelled before the former President wastes anymore of public money to fund his antics.

President Ramaphosa’s administration has already increased VAT, sin tax, sugar tax and the price of fuel – all of which hit the poor hardest. It is grossly unfair to expect struggling South Africans to continue to pay for a former President’s attempts to avoid accountability.

As long as the ANC remain in power, their system of corruption will continue to steal from the pockets of all South Africans. We must reject this and elect a DA government that has zero tolerance for corruption – where politicians found guilty of corruption will spend a minimum of 15 years in jail.

Text of letter:

Monday, January 07, 2019

Mr Cyril Ramaphosa

President of the RSA

Tuynhuys

Parliament

Cape Town

8000

Dear President Ramaphosa,

I hereby respectfully request that you cancel the deal the Presidency entered into a decade ago with former President Jacob Zuma in which it was agreed that his past and future legal fees in defence of corruption charges against him would be paid for by the state.

In December 2018, in a case brought by the Democratic Alliance, the North Gauteng High Court ruled that the state may not pay these fees, and that they are instead for Mr Zuma’s own account. It comes as no surprise that Mr Zuma is appealing this ruling, given that this has always been his modus operandi: to delay the course of justice, at the taxpayer’s expense.

This deliberate delay has been going on for over a decade and has already cost South Africans tens of millions of Rands. Mr Zuma’s appeal will only serve to delay justice further in a country that is crying out for justice, and which you have promised a new era of accountability.

The DA will oppose this latest appeal in court, but you can avoid this costly and unnecessary process by doing the right thing.

Cancelling this deal with Mr Zuma would represent a clean break with South Africa’s damaging and frustrating past. It would send a clear message to the nation that public money will no longer be abused for personal ends, and that all South Africans – including public representatives – will be equal before the law going forward.

Furthermore, I hereby additionally request that you make public both the terms of this deal struck with Mr Zuma, and the amounts of monies that taxpayers have to date stumped up in defence of his alleged corruption.

In the spirit of transparency which you have promised – and since they have footed the bill to date – taxpayers have a right to know. South Africans are tired of murky backroom deals at their expense. They deserve the honest truth.

It is time to put your country before your party. On behalf of South Africans, please cancel the deal and give us a clean break with the past.

Yours sincerely

MMUSI MAIMANE MP

Leader of the Official Opposition in Parliament

ENDS

Statement issued by DA leader, Mmusi Maimane, 7 January 2019