There was drama at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture as former president Jacob Zuma claimed that there were numerous plots to kill him.
He also dismissed witnesses who have implicated him, calling them spies serving the agenda of those “working to assassinate his character”.
Zuma said there was a plot to kill him in March this year during the Maskandi fill up Moses Mabhida Stadium event in Durban.
“The plan to kill me in Durban was detailed and involved many people – some even brought from outside the country,” he said.
The individuals brought in were “suicide bombers”, Zuma claimed, and were meant to carry out the assassination during the Maskandi show.
“This matter is bigger than what meets the eye,” said Zuma.
He reiterated that he had been silent “for long enough” but now it was time to speak as he had been “provoked beyond measure”.
He said he also broke his silence because of the pain that “the lies spewed” by witnesses who have implicated him had caused his family and “severely affected” them.
Zuma testified of how his son Mxolisi ‘Saady’ Zuma had lost his job as a result of a company he was working for “asking him to leave” because other companies would not do business with it because of the young Zuma being in their ranks.
He also spoke of how his son, Duduzane, had unsuccessfully sought employment in government and failed to get a job because of being Zuma’s son.
Zuma said this was all due to people working around the clock to “assassinate his character”.
The former president went on a rant at the commission once he had been sworn in and he told of how there had been a plot that spanned “over 20 years”.
He said the likes of former public service and administration minister, Ngoako Ramatlhodi – who accused Zuma of auctioning his executive authority to the Gupta family – was “a spy recruited while he was a student in Lesotho”.
Zuma appointed Ramatlhodi as minister between 2015 and 2017.
However, during his testimony before the commission in November last year, Ramatlhodi was very critical of Zuma as he detailed how the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) was at pains trying to convince Zuma to relinquish his friendship with the Guptas.
“There were several times when members in the ANC NEC challenged the president to terminate his friendship with the Gupta family. The president’s response would always be ‘this family helped my children when others would not do so, what do you want me to do?’,” revealed Ramatlhodi.
Zuma explained this before the commission on Monday, saying that his children – particularly Duduzane – after having struggled to find employment in government “turned to the Gupta family” and was accepted with open arms.
He added that his son even moved from working for to partnering with the family in business.
According to Zuma, the only thing he “would plead guilty to was urging the Gupta family to start a media company”.
“Having seen how critical and counter-productive our media was I urged this family – which was good in business – to start their own media company,” Zuma said.
He added that “after seeing the success of the print, The New Age, he suggested that they start their own TV channel to provide fresh air into the toxic media space.”
Zuma said he even formulated the name of the now defunct ANN7.
Last month, the Zondo commission set aside July 15 to 19 for the former president to avail himself and make counter-submissions, after having been directly implicated, according to the commission, by eight witnesses.