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DA taking Zuma to court for failing to answer a question in Parliament

DA leader Mmusi Maimane wanted to know how much the president’s office has spent on legal costs fighting the DA in the corruption charges case.

FILE: President Jacob Zuma answers questions in the National Assembly on 2 November 2017. Picture: @PresidencyZA/Twitter

CAPE TOWN - Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane has announced that his party is taking President Jacob Zuma to court after he failed to answer a question posed to him in Parliament last week.

Maimane wanted to know how much the president’s office has spent on legal costs fighting the DA’s bid to have corruption charges against him reinstated.

Zuma sidestepped the question prompting a walkout by the DA.

Maimane says Zuma’s response was an insult to the country and Parliament.

“The question was quite simple, it was clear and unequivocal to the president. It had to do with what we’ve spent on a decade-long case which is famously or infamously called the Spy Tapes and the 783 charges of corruption.”

He says the party also plans to bring a motion of no confidence in the Deputy Speaker for shielding the president from accounting to the national legislature.

During his Q&A session last week, Zuma told the House he was entitled by law to have the State pick up the bill for defending legal action that was launched by the party.

But he did not spell out the amount incurred by the Presidency over the eight years of litigation since the decision, which the courts have since ruled was irrational.

The drama started when DA leader Mmusi Maimane said he couldn’t ask a follow up because the president hadn’t answered the question.

“I am answering the question because the answer gives an impression I am running to courts and spending a lot of money – I’m saying I have been defending what the political party [DA] has been doing in terms of taking me to court,” Zuma explained.

DA appeals to Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli to get Zuma to give a figure for his legal costs went nowhere and tempers frayed.

Zuma said: “I’ve answered the question if the honourable member is not satisfied, I’ve answered the question.”

Maimane added: “Deputy speaker, this is completely unacceptable. He has not answered the question… I’ll say this one thing: he may be in government now, but he is going to jail. I can assure you he is going to jail. The president is going to jail…”

After further furious clashes with the Deputy Speaker, DA MPs walked out en masse.

The president was accused of not giving an exact amount or being clear on what money has been spent.

Instead, he gave a short answer, explaining that all members of the executive are entitled to a legal defence if challenged in court.

“This benefit is extended to all who are employed in the service of the state. Thank you very much.”

Zuma later told the House he did not know how much the State had paid out on his legal costs and had not asked.

He told the remaining MPs in the House that the question was part of a political game being played.

Additional reporting by Gaye Davis.

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)