Former president Jacob Zuma has questioned the accuracy of the phrase “state capture”, asking if the three arms of the South African state are captured.
On Monday, Zuma took the stand at the commission of inquiry into state capture chaired by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.
Zuma said his appearance before the commission was a result of a protracted ploy to have him “removed” from a leadership role.
The former president said this ploy stemmed from the 1990s and had been conceived by foreign and domestic intelligence agencies.
“There was a plan to deal with Zuma and Zuma has been dealt with all the time,” the former president said.
Zuma questioned a number of matters that have implicated him, including the arms deal and the ‘spy tapes’, among others, saying these were meant as his “character assassination”.
The former president also took issue on former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s recommendation that the Chief Justice appoint the chair of the commission which stripped the president at the time – him – of his power to do so.
However, he said he did not raise this issue at the time because this would be seen as a delaying tactic as he was alleged to be at the centre of state capture.
Zuma questioned why the commission was not investigating the three arms of the state, namely parliament, the judiciary, and the executive if it really was investigating state capture.
“The matters that have been dealt with [in the commission] are general corruption matters,” Zuma said.
The former president said the commission was meant to be his “grave” where he will “be buried”.
“Why call it state capture? Is that expression saying the judges are captured? Is the government captured? Is the parliament captured?” Zuma questioned, asking why the legal fraternity accepted this expression without question.
He said that in essence, the country was telling the world that the three arms of the state were captured, adding that “its an exaggeration, it is meant to enhance this narrative” that he was corrupt.
Zuma said former mineral resources minister Ngoako Ramathlodi‘s comments at the commission that he had auctioned the country were lies.
“Did I auction Table Mountain, did I auction Johannesburg? … It is a lie,” Zuma said.
The former president said the allegations against him had had an adverse effect on his family and children.
Watch the proceedings live courtesy of the SABC: