The Democratic Alliance (DA) argued on Tuesday that the agreement between President Cyril Ramaphosa and his predecessor Jacob Zuma to cover his legal costs was unlawful.
Advocate Sean Rosenberg argued before a full bench on Tuesday at the North Gauteng High Court.
The DA wants Zuma to pay back R15.3-million already spent on his legal fees. The party also wants the court to review an agreement between Zuma and the Presidency to pay for legal fees.
The fees were incurred during his criminal prosecution during the spy tapes matter in 2006.
"We are dealing with a situation where it is a criminal proceeding against Mr Zuma in his personal capacity ... He was not furthering the government at all, he was serving his personal interests," said Rosenberg.
He said the presidency and the state attorney’s office have invoked the wrong sections of the law, Section 3(1) and Section 3(3), to justify that the state should pay Zuma’s legal costs.
Rosenberg said Section 3(1) provides for the function of the state attorney to perform work on behalf of the government, saying while this function may extend to providing legal services to public officials in their official capacity, it did not permit the state attorney to provide legal services to public officials who sue or are being sued or prosecuted in their personal capacities.
He said Zuma’s criminal charges did not meet the requirements to obtain legal assistance in his court battles.
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have also joined the matter and want Zuma's former lawyer Michael Hulley to also "pay back the money" he was paid by the state.
Advocate Thembelihle Ngcukaitobi for the EFF said Zuma's legal fees had been understated and were, in fact, closer to R32.2-million. He said there was no proper and prudent financial management of costs in this matter by the state attorney.