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'Zuma must carry his legal costs into failed state of capture report interdict'

On Friday, Zuma’s lawyers filed papers in the High Court in Pretoria, saying the state must foot the bill.

President Jacob Zuma. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG – Opposition parties say President Jacob Zuma must take responsibly for his actions which have nothing to do with his public office and pay for the legal costs in his failed interdict against the release of the state capture report from his own pocket.

On Friday, Zuma’s lawyers filed papers in the High Court in Pretoria, saying the state must foot the bill for Zuma as the report looked into his conduct in his official capacity.

Zuma made a dramatic U-turn in his bid to prevent the release of the report by withdrawing his urgent application on the second day of the hearing earlier this month.

The Democratic Alliance (DA), Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), United Democratic Movement (UDM) and Congress of the People urged the court to order him to pay for the legal costs out of his own pocket.

President Zuma’s lawyers say the state must pay for his legal costs because there is no evidence to suggest he violated the Executive Members’ Ethics Act.

But opposition parties say Zuma abused the court, lied under oath, and is litigating to protect his own personal interests.

One of their lawyers Eric Mabuza says, “It’s about time that public officials start taking responsibility for their actions which have nothing to do with their responsibility with public office.

“And we believe that this is the appropriate case where such measures should be effected against the president, including other public officials.”

Zuma’s lawyers argue in court papers that the Public Protector’s report looked into the president’s conduct in his official capacity and that state is obliged to perform work on behalf of the president.

The opposition parties say taxpayers should not have to pay President Zuma’s legal costs when he has abused the court, lied under oath, and is litigating to protect his own personal interests.

But in court papers the President’s lawyers argue that he should not pay costs in his personal capacity because there is no evidence to suggest he violated the Executive Member’s Ethics Act.

Zuma’s counsel, Anthea Platt, further argued that the Public Protector’s report looked into the president’s conduct in his official capacity and that State was obliged to perform work on behalf of the President.

MADONSELA TOLD TO STEP BACK

The Presidency said it’s concerned about continuing public statements by former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela on matters relating to President Zuma and the report entitled ‘State of Capture’.

In a written statement published on Friday, the Presidency said Madonsela has no further role to play in the process regarding the said report.

Madonsela’s term as Public Protector ended in October, and she has been succeeded by Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane.

“Advocate Madonsela has been quite active on commenting about it and the president in particular. We think that she has discharged her responsibilities and she should step back and allow the constitutional and other legal processes to continue unhindered,” says the Presidency’s Bongani Ngqulunga.

The statements add that the Presidency remains concerned by the leaking by Madonsela to television channel eNCA of her discussion with the president.

“This conduct has serious implications with regards to ethics, confidentiality and the protection of information gathered during investigations by the office of the Public Protector.”

The Presidency concluded its statement by saying President Zuma urges all parties to act as guided by the Constitution and respect the processes that are unfolding in respect of the report.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)