President Cyril Ramaphosa says government agreed to help subsidise the millions of rands spent by former president Jacob Zuma on legal fees on the condition that he pay the money back if found to be guilty.
On Tuesday, the Democratic Alliance (DA) revealed that the Presidency has so far paid out more than R15,3 million on Zuma’s legal costs relating to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA)'s decision to drop charges of fraud, corruption, and racketeering against him.
Opposition parties are demanding that Zuma pay back the money.
The agreement that was struck between former President Jacob Zuma and the government as the instrument that has enabled the government to help pay the money on the understanding that the money will be paid back if he has been found to be personally responsible for these acts.— President Cyril Ramaphosa
We also need to make a distinction between the various legal cases that have been going on to which he has appealed. He has appealed against certain cases where legal costs have been involved and those need to be separated from the ones we are talking about now, being R15 million having divided them into two categories...— President Cyril Ramaphosa
You asked which instrument did we use, we used the agreement. I will need to check that more closely.— President Cyril Ramaphosa
This is not the first time that this has been done, says Ramaphosa.
The acts that former president Jacob Zuma was charged with, he was charged with acts that arose as he was occupying a government position. In that regard there is a practice that those who are charged for activities, be they criminal or otherwise, the government will cover that. Once the court makes a determination based on the outcome of the case, they will be able to determine how those legal costs will be dealt with.— President Cyril Ramaphosa
The Economic Freedom Fighters fired back at the President, insisting that he failed to explain whether the agreement is in line with the State Attorney Act.
Party chief whip Floyd Shivambu repeated the question.
How does it come about that a president comes here without an answer about giving us legal reference because all money of the state has to be spent according to law.— Floyd Shivambu, EFF Chief Whip
What is the legal basis of taking money of the state and giving it to a constitutional delinquent? How many public representatives are there? When Jacob Zuma did this think he was an MEC in Kwazulu Natal, so are you saying that all the MEC's must come and queue for legal fees from the state?— Floyd Shivambu, EFF Chief Whip
Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane shared the same sentiments.
I am asking for your commitment to say stop funding a delinquent litigators legal fees from henceforth.— Mmusi Maimane, DA leader
WATCH: President Ramaphosa answers questions in Parliament