WATCH | Defiant Jacob Zuma speaks publicly for first time since his incarceration

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  • Jacob Zuma spoke for the first time since his incarceration for contempt of court.
  • He continued to maintain he was imprisoned without trial.
  • He claimed that something "has gone terribly wrong" in South Africa.

Former president Jacob Zuma on Thursday spoke for the first time since his incarceration following his contempt of court ruling, which resulted in a 15-month jail sentence. 

Speaking virtually at the "welcome home prayer" held by the JG Zuma Foundation, the former head of state said, "something has gone terribly wrong in our country". 

"The main aspects of the unconstitutional debacle that ended with my current imprisonment are repeating. Yes, I remain a prisoner under very strict parole conditions."

FACT CHECK | Propaganda, Zondo, and the judiciary: 5 claims made during Zuma's media briefing

He said many attempts were made to remove him from any leadership position in the ANC and the government since 1994. 

"The judiciary commission of inquiry was the final measure of those who fear what I represent. There is no legislation in terms of which anyone can direct the president to appoint a commission of inquiry," he claimed.

Zuma continues to insist that the State Capture Inquiry was unconstitutionally and unlawfully established, because then Public Protector Thuli Madonsela ordered that the power to appoint its chairperson must be taken out of his hands.

The image of former South African President Jacob
Priests on stage during a welcome prayer for Zuma in Durban.

News24 previously reported that Madonsela explained the reason for this was to avoid any perception of conflict of interest, as Zuma, his son and his friends, the Gupta family, were all implicated in the alleged wrongdoing that the commission was tasked to investigate.

Judge President Dunstan Mlambo and two other judges agreed.

Zuma said the Public Protector went further to recommend that the head of such a commission must be elected by the chief justice.

"As president of the Republic, I approached the court to ensure I would be acting within the ambit of the powers and functions of the president. The competent court ultimately ruled that I should establish the commission as recommended by the Public Protector."

Zuma said he decided it was prudent to comply, "but noted my dissatisfaction with these decisions".

People hold placards while they sing and celebrate
People hold placards while they sing and celebrate during a collective welcome prayer for Zuma.

However, he was the one who appointed the inquiry after losing a court bid.

In a statement during his tenure as president, he even called for cooperation with the inquiry.

He stated on Thursday that even judges and lawmakers made mistakes, but provided no evidence of any wrongdoing by legal practitioners.

Recusal

Speaking about the inquiry and his application for the recusal of the chairperson, Acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, Zuma erroneously claimed Zondo "elected to act as his own witness against me, while presiding over the application for his recusal".

Veterans of the ruling African National Congress (
MKMVA veterans sing and celebrate during a collective welcome prayer for Zuma in Durban.

"He went on to rule against me on the matter between him and me, where the facts were in dispute. My legal team gave notice that we would apply for the review of his decision. We subsequently applied for the review of his decision at the high court."

Zuma has failed to make good on his promise to lodge a misconduct complaint against Zondo over his handling of his recusal application, which his advocate Muzi Sikhakhane told Zondo he would do.

Zuma claimed that, deliberately or not, he was treated "in a manner that is in flagrant disregard of the letter and spirit of the commission".

"He [Zondo] wanted me sent to jail for two years without trial by the ConCourt as a warning about its apparently unlimited powers."

The Constitutional Court found that Zuma had multiple opportunities to bring issues to the court, but chose not to.

The apex court also found that Zuma's grounds for rescission of the contempt of court order were devoid of merit.

The Constitutional Court said Zuma's application lacked prospects of success and that he failed to provide a reasonable explanation for his default on the court order.

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