The National Interfaith Council of SA hosted a welcome home prayer for former president Jacob Zuma in Nkandla.
Former president Jacob Zuma denied claims that he would soon leave the ANC to lead a breakaway party that would split the ANC’s votes in next year’s elections on Thursday.

Addressing hundreds of supporters during a prayer service in his Nkandla home town, Zuma said he would ­remain with the ANC and fight to prevent the current leaders from misleading the party.

“People who think I can leave the ANC to form another party are just dreaming. They don’t really know me,” said Zuma.

He was addressing a crowd that had packed a small marquee erected on an open field, a stone’s throw away from his controversial multimillion-rand homestead.

He said that during the Struggle and while in the government he had committed no crime, and that the corruption charges he faced had been concocted to persecute him for pushing for the expropriation of land without compensation, and for his role during the ­Struggle.

“They are making noises over a homestead that I paid for with my own money,” he said.

Among those he addressed were members of the Mazibuye Emasisweni group, who said they were conducting ­research to establish the possibility of forming a new political party to contest next year’s general elections against the ANC.

Mazibuye spokesperson Reggie Ngcobo told the media before the event started that Zuma was one of many senior Struggle stalwarts who had been advising them on how to go about forming a new party.

“We would like (former) president Zuma to lead the new party. He started the economic struggle and he has to complete it,” said ­Ngcobo.

“Our meetings with (former) president Zuma are for him to guide us and to give us his perspective on the current state of ­affairs in the country.

“We are consulting many people from strategic sectors including traditional leaders, former leaders in the government, taxi owners, traditional healers and unemployed ­people,” Ngcobo said.

He added that consultations had been held exclusively with those who believed in the economic freedom of black South Africans.

Ngcobo said the group had not decided whether to form a political party or not.

Pastors from various Christian denominations, including ANC MPL Vusi Dube, had ­organised the event to welcome Zuma back home after an unceremonious end to his second term as president.

Traditional leaders who spoke at the event said they hoped that Zuma would now spend time with his family and also participate in local development projects.

However, when Zuma spoke, he made it clear that returning home to retire was the last thing on his mind.

He said that, as a member of the ANC, he would continue his fight for the liberation of black people.

He said that because of his relentless fight for economic transformation he was being prosecuted for corruption, “which I did not commit”.

“I am not scared of going to prison because I have committed no crime. I don’t do crime.

“The only crime that I might have committed was to fight for freedom. If fighting for freedom was a crime, I will stand before God to answer for my crimes,” he said.

Zuma said the courts were not perfect and judges sometimes made mistakes.

“But there are appeal processes, which I am prepared to take in case I am found guilty,” he said.

He also defended the controversial Gupta family from allegations of state capture, saying that for the family to talk to “three individual government officials” did not amount to state capture.

“The state is made up of three spheres of government - parliament, judiciary and ­executive. They captured none of these,” he said.

Zuma’s controversial son Edward, who did not attend the event, said his father wanted to distance himself from Mazibuye.

“I also wish to categorically distance former president Jacob Zuma from these people.

“No member of the Zuma family is involved with them as we are all disciplined members of the ANC,” he said. - Additional reporting by Zimasa Matiwane