South Africa’s former president Jacob Zuma spent R15.3 million on legitimate expenses to dodge indictment on charges of extortion; defilement; and racketeering over a nine year time frame, a letter from the state lawyer uncovered on Tuesday.
The state attorney was responding to a letter from South Africa’s biggest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, dated January 17, 2018.
“Thank you for affording is an extension of time to all the current president to consider the matter and for us to take instructions to meaningfully respond to your above letter,” the letter read.
“We are instructed to inform you that since 1 May 2009 an amount of R15,300,250.00 was incurred by the Presidency on legal costs pertaining to the National Prosecuting Authority’s [NPAs] decision to decline to prosecute former President Zuma on charges of fraud; corruption; and racketeering.”
The letter added that the Presidency would convey the above information to the National Assembly.
The Presidency were not immediately available for comment.
On November 30, the DA, filed papers with the NPA outlining why 783 counts of corruption, fraud, money laundering, and racketeering against Zuma, should immediately be instituted.
The Supreme Court of Appeal last year refused the NPA and Zuma leave to appeal a high court ruling which set aside the 2009 decision to drop the charges — related to South Africa’s arms deal.
On Tuesday, DA leader Mmusi Maimane said that the legal action was against Zuma in his personal capacity and not as president.
“This legal action was against Jacob Zuma in his personal capacity, for crimes he allegedly committed before he was President. He was not a respondent in that case in his capacity as President of the Republic of South Africa. As such, this amounts to R15.3 million of irregular spending by the government to keep Jacob Zuma out of jail,” Maimane said.
“Therefore, Jacob Zuma must personally pay back this money. The DA has consulted our legal team and begun the legal process of retrieving every cent of this R15.3 million from Jacob Zuma. As this money was spent by the Presidency, we call on President Cyril Ramaphosa to join our legal action to recover this money from Jacob Zuma. The new President cannot talk tough on corruption and wasteful spending, yet turn a blind eye to this blatant abuse of public funds by Jacob Zuma.”
He said the money included all legal costs pertaining to the NPAs decision to decline to prosecute Zuma on charges of fraud, corruption and racketeering.
Maimane said his party would retrieve “the people’s money from Jacob Zuma”, and that the former president would have his day in court to answer to the 783 counts of fraud, corruption, money-laundering and racketeering against him.
On February 23, South Africa’s prosecutions head Advocate Shaun Abrahams received recommendations from his prosecution team on whether Zuma will be charged for corruption, an official said at the time.
“The NDPP [National Director of Public Prosecutions Abrahams] has received the memorandum outlining the recommendations of the team, he will peruse it and advise on the way forward in due course,” the National Prosecuting Authority’s spokesperson, Advocate Luvuyo Mfaku said at the time.
Earlier, the NPA said Abrahams \had given the team, dealing with corruption allegations against Zuma, until February 23, to make recommendations on the matter.
“The National Prosecuting Authority confirms that the National Director of Public Prosecutions, Advocate Shaun Abrahams, has directed the prosecution team to provide him with their recommendations by no later than Friday, 23 February, 2018,” a short statement from the NPA said at the time.
Zuma filed papers with the NPA on January 31, in which he gave reasons why he should not face fraud and corruption charges.
The NPA had set an initial deadline of November 30, after a request from Zuma the former president was granted a seven-week extension.
Zuma, 75, resigned as President of South Africa on February 14, under severe pressure from his party the ruling African National Congress, bringing an end to his nine scandal-riddled years at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.