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‘Decision to fund Zuma's legal bills based on State Attorney Act’

President Cyril Ramaphosa told the House that R15,3 million had been spent so far.

President Jacob Zuma (left) and his deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa (right). Picture: GCIS

CAPE TOWN - President Cyril Ramaphosa has confirmed that the decision to use public funds for Jacob Zuma’s legal defence in relation to fraud and corruption charges was based on the State Attorney Act.

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema tackled Ramaphosa about the government's agreement to pay Zuma's legal costs during his first question and answer session in the National Assembly on 14 March.

Ramaphosa told the House that R15,3 million had been spent so far.

But he could not tell Malema which law or policy formed the basis for the undertaking and promised to provide him with the information – which he has now done.

President Ramaphosa says the State Attorney Act allows for the state to pay legal costs where the government is not a party to a matter before the courts but is either interested or concerned in it – or where it is in the public interest to provide a government official with legal representation.

His written reply to the Malema says at the time that Zuma was alleged to have committed the offences, he was a government official – at provincial and then later, national level.

Zuma was MEC for Economic Development in KwaZulu-Natal before becoming deputy president.

Ramaphosa says the State Attorney decided to grant Zuma’s request that the state pay his legal costs on condition that he undertook to refund the money if it was found that he acted in his personal capacity and outside the scope of his employment.

Zuma signed the undertaking.

Zuma’s lawyers are now preparing to take on review the decision by National Prosecuting Authority head Shaun Abrahams that he be prosecuted on the charges.

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