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South African News

Former President Zuma granted leave to appeal R10m legal costs

Jacob Zuma

Former president Jacob Zuma’s application for leave to appeal a judgement holding him liable for R10 million in legal costs was granted in the North Gauteng High Court on Thursday morning. Justice Dunstan Mlambo told a packed courthouse that lawyers representing EFF, Cope and UDM had not convinced him that Zuma should not be allowed to appeal.

The legal costs are from when Zuma sought review of the then public protector Thuli Madonsela’s remedial action against him resulting from her state capture report. On December 13 2017 it was ruled that the remedial actions proposed by Madonsela in the matter were binding and that a conflict of interest prevented Zuma from getting involved or executing his usual powers as head of state. He was ordered to set up the inquiry into the matter that is currently taking place.

Those at the packet courthouse included general Bantu Holomisa of the UDM who are respondents in the matter alongside the EFF and Cope. Zuma’s advocate Muzi Sikhakhane argued that Zuma should not be personally liable for any costs.

He noted that the cost order affects Zuma personally and therefore he should be allowed to appeal it in his personal capacity. Sikhakhane also argued that the fact that Zuma was president when he was ordered to pay the costs, but then ceased to be president in February, after which the order “became more pronounced,” should be taken into account.

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The EFF was then taken to task by Justice Dunstan Mlambo for not filing their papers regarding the matter on time. The party’s advocate Dumisa Ntsebeza argued that Zuma suffered no prejudice as a consequence of the EFF filing late.

Ntsebeza then looked at Zuma’s intervention application in the case, arguing that while he concedes Zuma has a personal interest in the case, the application was not “brought reasonably”.

The EFF’s advocate then took Zuma to task for not intervening earlier, noting that the party had put Zuma on notice in August 2017 and had indicated that they would be asking for personal costs order against the then president Zuma at the time.

Ntsebeza also accused Zuma of showing no urgency in his intervention application, arguing that it should be dismissed as a result. Mlambo, in response, said Zuma had indeed raised his grievances regarding the costs application and applied for leave to appeal while still president in December 2017.

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Advocate Dali Mpofu then took the stand, representing the UDM and Cope. Mpofu argued that Zuma must lodge a new application against the costs order as the leave to appeal application is “a dead matter. It has been closed, in April already”.

He noted that president Cyril Ramaphosa had withdrawn the application for leave to appeal in this matter and that the matter should, therefore, be closed. “You are intervening in nothing and the something that was there was killed by the court on the 13th of December. There is no way that an application if the rule is read properly, could be brought or succeed,” Mpofu said.

Advocate for the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac) Michelle le Roux told the court that she believes Zuma is just pursuing the litigation to delay having to pay the cost order. Le Roux said there was a “familiar pattern” regarding Zuma doing this.

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