Former president Jacob Zuma told the chair of the commission of inquiry into state capture, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, that despite being “vilified” and accused of being “the king of corrupt people” in the past decade, he has not “responded to those issues” because of his values.
Zuma took the stand at the commission on Monday to give his side of the story in response to the statements or affidavits and evidence of certain witnesses that had implicated the former president, the commission said.
These witnesses include former chief executive at the Government Communications Information Systems Themba Maseko, former ANC MP Vytie Mentor, former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, former public enterprises minister Barbra Hogan, former mineral resources minister Ngoako Ramathlodi, Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula, among others.
“I’ve been given every other name and I have never responded to those issues,” Zuma told Zondo, explaining that he had not responded because he believed respect was key and that people should not make allegations that could not be proven.
“This has been my nature as I grew up,” Zuma added, saying these were values he was taught from home and while serving the governing African National Congress (ANC).
Zuma told Zondo that he believed the commission was set up so he could appear before it and to make findings against him.
The former president said there had been a drive to have him removed and “a wish that I would disappear”.
Zuma told Zondo that in the early 1990s, he came across two reports that found that certain organisations, some from “major countries” and another from within South Africa, had a plot to “character assassinate” him because “he has a lot of information that he holds … as the chief of intelligence”, including his knowledge of spies within the ANC who were meant to grow within the governing party until they took up leadership roles of the organisation.
“That is the beginning of the process that has put me here today,” Zuma said.
Zuma said that in 1991, he also came across information that these organisations changed their tactics after realising that the former president had too much support within the ANC and his home province and so could not be easily “removed”.
The organisations wanted Zuma removed as chief of intelligence and from the ANC’s national executive committee following the party’s 1991 elective conference.
Watch the proceedings live courtesy of the SABC.