PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma wanted to avoid setting a legal precedent that might limit freedom of speech when he withdrew his lawsuit against the Sunday Times and cartoonist Zapiro.
This was the Presidency's explanation yesterday in a statement confirming Zuma had withdrawn his claim.
Though Zuma would pay some of his opponents' legal costs it would not hit the pocket of government or the ANC, the party said yesterday.
ANC general secretary Mathews Phosa yesterday said Zuma would pay his 50% contribution to the respondents' legal fees from his own pocket.
"The president believes that in an open and democratic society a fine and sensitive balance needs to be maintained between the exercise of civil rights such as freedom of speech, dignity and privacy of others," Zuma's spokesman, Mac Maharaj, said.
Zuma instituted the claim against Avusa Media (now Times Media), publishers of the Sunday Times, its then editor Mondli Makhanya and cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro.
Sunday Times editor Ray Hartley said he was happy with the outcome but "a lot of time and taxpayers' money has been wasted on an ill-considered effort to curtail free expression".