It was a dark day for President Jacob Zuma yesterday with the release of the Public Protector’s report. But his troubles are far from over, as his urgent ‘gag bid’ cast him in a starring role for #PayBackTheMoney — the sequel.
According to a senior advocate who was part of the proceedings, Zuma may also have to dig into his own pocket to foot the R3 million legal bill for his now aborted bid to gag the report
While ordering that the dreaded report be placed in the public domain by 5pm on Wednesday, the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, was also considering whether or not to hold the president personally liable for the legal fees of all the parties involved.
The court already slapped the Zuma camp with a punitive costs order – far higher than a normal costs order – but it was yet to be decided whether the taxpayer or Zuma himself would pay.
This issue was postponed indefinitely and Zuma was given seven days to deliver submissions to the court on why he should not be held personally accountable for the legal bill.
Zuma made use of the State Advocate’s office in instituting his legal proceedings. This office handles litigation instituted by State entities, regarding official issues of State.
The taxpayer pays the legal fees incurred by work done by the State Attorney’s office.
But opposition parties firmly put their foot down soon after the president’s legal team announced at the start of the proceedings that he was withdrawing his urgent court bid. This surprise move followed shortly after Zuma’s team was due to kick off proceedings by arguing why the state capture report had to remain under wraps.
The entire Tuesday was wasted when the Zuma camp opposed applications by the DA, the UDM, Cope and EFF, as well as former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor, to join the proceedings.
It was not clear why the Zuma camp dropped their application, but it would have faced five sets of lawyers who all called for the release of the report.
While withdrawing the application, Zuma’s lead advocate, Anthea Platt, said he tendered the costs of the application.
If the opposition parties did not vehemently argue that Zuma had to pay up personally, the taxpayer would have once again had to foot the bill for Zuma’s litigation.