Jacob Zuma’s supporters are raising money to pay his legal fees. Even President Cyril Ramaphosa has been urged to give.
The supporters are some church leaders and business forums. Under the banner of “RET Defenders“‚ they are asking for donations.
Representatives of the group said they had not established a trust in Zuma’s name‚ but were encouraging individual donations. They have suggested Ramaphosa contribute because he is a “billionaire president“.
The secretary of the National Funeral Practitioners Association of SA‚ Nkosenhle Shezi‚ spoke on behalf of the “RET Defenders” group. He said the group would support Zuma “through thick and thin“.
“We have been approached by ANC members and many other people‚ saying let’s support him‚” Shezi said. “What we can do is encourage everyone to donate money as they can. We are also contributing individually not as organisations.
“The ANC has a very rich billionaire president. I wish to see him contribute also and in fact‚ Ramaphosa can throw in this R30m and not even feel it in his pocket because he is filthy rich.”
On Thursday‚ a full bench of the Pretoria high court overturned a 2006 agreement between Zuma and then president Thabo Mbeki. The agreement said the state would foot Zuma’s legal costs in the arms deal matter. The court instructed the state attorney to recover the R16.78m that was paid for Zuma’s legal battle to prevent the case from going to trial.
Zuma is expected to appeal against the judgment.
He has also been held personally liable for all costs incurred in his failed bid to block the release of former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s “State of Capture” report. The legal costs from both matters are estimated to be between R18m and R30m.
Thursday’s judgment also refers to a 2008 parliamentary response by the then minister in the presidency‚ Essop Pahad. Pahad said any person who received funding or legal representation from the state undertook to repay the state if they were found guilty.
Pahad said if Zuma were a public servant‚ his pension benefits would have been withheld until the case was finalised. Zuma was ANC president at the time and did not hold public office. He continues to receive his presidential benefits‚ including his annual salary of about R2.9m.
Does Zuma have the money to pay his legal costs?
Zuma has been selling his assets — the Nkandla home apart — since 2014. According to a deeds search‚ Zuma sold two sectional title units in a Berea‚ Johannesburg‚ complex for R150‚000 each in 2014.
A director search revealed that Zuma was the sole shareholder of Michigan Investments‚ which is still in business. The search also listed him as a 25% shareholder in Amaqhawe Wase Africa Petroleum‚ which is in the final stage of deregistration. However‚ these records were last updated in 2015.
Zuma also received a loan from the now defunct VBS Mutual Bank for R7.8m. The loan was used to pay back some of the money used to make non-security upgrades to Nkandla. Zuma is still liable to the curators of the bank for repayment.
The ANC said it would not discourage any financial help for Zuma‚ but distanced itself from a campaign to raise the funds.
-Amil Umraw And Zimasa Matiwane