Zuma allies seek donations for legal bills
Allies of South Africa’s graft-tainted former president Jacob Zuma, who was jailed for contempt of court last month, on Tuesday pleaded with the public to donate money to help cover his legal fees.
llies of South Africa’s graft-tainted former president Jacob Zuma, who was jailed for contempt of court last month, on Tuesday pleaded with the public to donate money to help cover his legal fees.
Mired in scandal, the 79-year-old ex-president has been fighting a protracted corruption case linked to an arms deal signed more than two decades ago, when he was deputy leader.
In December 2018 — months after he was ousted from the presidency by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) — he was ordered by a court to reimburse the state the equivalent of more than a million dollars that had been spent on his legal bills.
“Dear People of South Africa and the world. Please lend a helping hand,” the Jacob Zuma Foundation said in a tweet.
“We humbly request for donations support to help cover the legal fees of our patron,” it said.
The tweet carried a picture of Zuma speaking into a microphone, fist punching in the air, and details of the bank account, in the name of “J.G. Zuma,” where contributions could be made.
Zuma faces 16 charges of fraud, graft and racketeering linked to the 1999 purchase of fighter jets, patrol boats and equipment from five European arms firms when he was deputy president.
He is accused of taking bribes from one of the firms, French defence giant Thales, which has also been charged with corruption. Both have pleaded not guilty.
The trial started in May after numerous postponements and delays, as Zuma’s legal team battled to have the charges dropped.
His next court appearance, initially set for early August, was pushed back to September after Zuma was hospitalised days prior for an undisclosed illness.
Zuma’s legal fees are estimated to have cost the state at least $1.1 million (938,000 euros), according to the presidency.
Zuma, who has also been ordered to pay back several million dollars in state funds spent on renovating his private residence, in 2019 said he was so broke he had to sell his hats and socks to foot his legal bill.
He is currently serving a 15-month jail sentence for snubbing a judicial panel probing graft during his tenure.