POLITICS
17/04/2018 16:59 SAST | Updated 17/04/2018 16:59 SAST

Justice Department Paid R24-Million For Zuma's Legal Costs – Masutha

Masutha listed five cases, costing R 24,240,201.54.

Jacob Zuma, former president of South Africa. April 6, 2018.
Mike Hutchings / Reuters
Jacob Zuma, former president of South Africa. April 6, 2018.

One of the enduring mysteries of the Jacob Zuma administration has been cleared up: Zuma's legal costs while president amounted to at least R24-million, Minister of Justice Michael Masutha has revealed in a parliamentary answer.

Last year in Parliament, Zuma refused to answer questions about his legal costs, and told the National Council of Provinces it was "not [his] problem".

Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Groenewald asked Masutha if "his department has paid any legal costs since 2009 in cases in which the former president of South Africa was involved", and what it cost.

Masutha listed five cases, costing R 24,240,201.54 in total.

"The fact that Zuma did not win one of these cases serves as proof that taxpayers' money was wasted to keep him out of trouble," Groenewald said in a statement.

According to Groenewald's information, the case in which the National Prosecuting Authority obtained a search warrant for the offices of Thint/Thales, as well as a letter to the authorities in Mauritius to obtain documents, was opposed by Zuma at a cost of R15.3-million.

"This case was taken to the Constitutional Court and was lost by Zuma. It is the only matter that was finalised," he said.

'Minister was trying to protect Zuma'

The case in which Zuma questioned the constitutional powers of the public protector, after the former incumbent of the office, Thuli Madonsela, released her report on Nkandla, had cost R3.2-million, and Zuma had used five advocates.

He said the case in which Zuma tried to prevent Madonsela from releasing her report on state capture had cost R2.5-million, and Zuma had used three advocates.

Zuma's appeal against the DA's request to make known his reasons for firing former ministers of finance Pravin Gordhan and Nhlanhla Nene had cost R1.2-million. This case will be heard on May 2 in the Supreme Court of Appeals.

Groenewald said he had posed the question to Masutha in November last year, but Masutha had not responded. Groenewald repeated the question, saying that the need to do so told him that "the minister was trying to protect him [Zuma] while he was still president". The FF Plus's view is that Zuma should pay his own legal costs.

Groenewald's statement was released on the same day that current public protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, told Parliament's portfolio committee on justice that her office had spent R15-million in legal costs battling judicial reviews of public protector reports.

This information also comes at a time when the DA is waging a battle to compel Zuma to personally pay the costs of the legal wrangles involving the spy-tape saga.