ONCE WE WERE FRIENDS Julius Malema and then president Jacob Zuma.
Image: Simphiwe Nkwali

An EFF bid to block the graft-accused former president Jacob Zuma from getting the state to foot his legal bill smacks of a personal vendetta, according to his lawyer.

This is why Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema is trying to block continued state funding for Zuma’s corruption trial defence.

“The (EFF’s) pursuit against Mr Zuma is undoubtedly influenced by politics more than principle – if not a personal vendetta of Mr Malema,” Zuma’s lawyer, Lugisani Mantsha, said in court papers filed on Friday.

“This is evidenced by the (EFF’s) constant pronouncements of labelling Mr Zuma a criminal and demanding that he be imprisoned.”

He adds that stopping state funding of Zuma’s defence now would “interfere with Mr Zuma’s fair trial rights”.

Mantsha was responding to a legal bid by the EFF to overturn a 2006 deal between Zuma, the state attorney and then president Thabo Mbeki to pay the costs of Zuma’s defence in his corruption trial. Under that deal, Zuma agreed to pay the money spent on his legal fees if he was convicted.

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