Zuma denies being ‘king of corrupt people’
JOHANNESBURG, July 15: South Africa's former president Jacob Zuma on Monday dismissed multiple graft allegations against him, telling a judicial inquiry he was the victim of conspiracies and years of "character assassination".
Zuma testified at the inquiry in Johannesburg into the so-called "state capture" scandal after previous witnesses gave damning evidence against him.
He is accused of overseeing mass looting of state assets during his nine-year tenure before being ousted by the ruling ANC party in 2018 and replaced by his deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa.
In his much-anticipated appearance, Zuma seemed relaxed as he spoke uninterrupted for more than two hours.
"I have been vilified, alleged to be the king of corrupt people," he said. "I have been given every other name and I have never responded."
Zuma, who is set to face cross-examination during his appearance which may last all week, said he had been the victim of "character assassination over 20 years."
"This commission, according to those who are implementing things, must be the grave of Zuma, he must be buried here," Zuma said.
"There has been a drive to remove me from the scene, (they) wish that I would disappear... there is this conspiracy against me."
Zuma, 77, was not legally required to attend the inquiry, but it invited him to appear after other witnesses testified against him.
Led by judge Raymond Zondo, the probe is investigating a web of deals involving government officials, the wealthy Gupta family and state-owned companies. -AFP