Published: Tue, July 16, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Zuma takes aim at detractors during corruption inquiry

Zuma takes aim at detractors during corruption inquiry

South Africa's ex-president Jacob Zuma on Tuesday said he had received a death threat after his testimony the previous day to an inquiry on corruption.

During his first sitting before the Commission of Inquiry on Monday, Zuma reaffirmed his belief that the protracted investigations into his role within the state capture project were nothing more than a witch hunt orchestrated by subversive political forces.

The inquiry is spotlighting the graft allegations that clouded Zuma's nine-year presidency, but analysts say that if it fails to pin a case on him it could dent President Cyril Ramaphosa's anti-corruption drive.

The Gupta brothers are accused of fraudulently profiting from government contracts including energy and transport deals under Zuma.

Later, inquiry evidence leader Paul Pretorius responded to Sikhakhane's accusation and denied that Zuma had been given sufficient time to prepare.

Zuma was forced to set up the inquiry in January 2018, shortly before he left office, after failing in a legal battle to overturn the instructions of the country's ethics ombudsman.

Former finance minister Nhlanhla Nene, who was sacked by Zuma in 2015, testified that Zuma pushed policies on nuclear power and aviation that were created to benefit the Gupta family.

Zuma, who will face questioning by lawyers during an appearance that could last all week, said he had been the victim of "character assassination over 20 years".

"I have wondered why I am accused, why people think my relationship with them is not right when they had relationships with other people", he said, adding that the Guptas were also acquainted with former presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki.

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"This commission, according to those who are implementing things, must be the grave of Zuma, he must be buried here", Zuma said.

On his controversial relationship with the Gupta family, he said, "I never did anything with them unlawfully". "I'm going to go and we'll see how things turn out".

Zondo asked Zuma's supporters in the venue not to applause his answers. Mentor told the commission that she was under the impression that she would be meeting with the then president when she got to Johannesburg.

A former deputy finance minister, Mcebisi Jones, testified that the Gupta family offered him the job of finance minister.

On Sunday night, Mr Zuma was in a good mood.

He objected to allegations that he had allowed the state to be "captured" by the Gupta family, and had auctioned the country.

Zuma's hearing is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Ramaphosa's efforts to clean up politics are already hampered by the lingering influence that Zuma and his allies exert over the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

I think it was very important for the Zuma legal team to state from the very start that they feel the process is unfair.

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