Zuma fires lawyer and focuses on 'preparation' for trial
Former president Jacob Zuma has fired his defence attorney Daniel Mantsha and appointed well-known lawyer Eric Mabuza to represent him — so that he “can focus more on the preparation” for his corruption trial.
In a statement released on Sunday morning, the J G Zuma Foundation said the former president had retained the services of his advocate Muzi Sikhakhane, who he had “briefed to assemble a multi-skilled legal team that will advise and assist former president Zuma in preparing for the biggest trial of his life”.
The foundation said this team would also “dispel the much repeated and tired narrative that seeks to suggest that in previously exercising his rights, former president Zuma sought to avoid his day in court or was adopting what the state calls Stalingrad tactics”.
“To this end, Sikhakhane SC and his team will also be advising and assisting former president Zuma to decisively deal with the long-standing speculation about his involvement in Arms Deal corruption,” the statement read.
Speaking on Sunday morning, Mabuza did not want to be drawn on whether this statement meant Zuma intended to withdraw his latest bid to appeal against the dismissal of his application for a permanent stay of prosecution in the Constitutional Court.
“My mandate is to assist in preparation for the trial,” Mabuza said.
Mantsha, who has been Zuma’s attorney of record since 2018, could not be reached for comment. It is not known at this stage what led Zuma to decide to terminate his services.
While the J G Zuma Foundation thanked Mantsha for his services, it stated that the former president had “unfortunately come to the conclusion that it is in his best interests to part ways with Mr Mantsha at this stage so that he can focus more on the preparation for the trial”.
“Former president Zuma therefore welcomes the opportunity that the upcoming trial will create for South Africans to get much-needed certainty about the bona fides of the State’s case against him as well as shed light on the much-needed certainty as to who exactly benefited from the alleged Arms Deal corruption,” the statement read.
Zuma is due back in the Pietermaritzburg high court on May 6, and currently has a suspended arrest warrant hanging over his head because of his failure to appear at his last court appearance because of alleged ill-health.
Judge Dhaya Pillay refused to accept a “sick note” presented by Mantsha as acceptable evidence that the former president was in fact unwell.