The National Interfaith Council of SA hosted a welcome home prayer for former president Jacob Zuma in Nkandla. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/ANA
The National Interfaith Council of SA hosted a welcome home prayer for former president Jacob Zuma in Nkandla. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/ANA
Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/ANA
Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/ANA
Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/ANA
Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/ANA
Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/ANA
Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/ANA
BLF leader Andile Mxitama Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/ANA
BLF leader Andile Mxitama Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/ANA
Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/ANA
Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/ANA
Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/ANA
Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/ANA
Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/ANA
Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/ANA
Durban - Former president Jacob Zuma says he is not scared of going to jail, because he has not committed any crime.

Zuma on Thursday also defended the controversial Gupta family - his known friends - saying they did not capture the state.

Addressing hundreds of his supporters during a prayer service in his Nkandla hometown, Zuma denounced claims that he would soon leave the ANC to lead a breakaway party that would split the ANC vote next year.

He said that because of his relentless fight for economic transformation, he was being prosecuted for corruption. “I am not scared of going to prison, I have committed no crime. I don’t do crime.

Read: 'No member of Zuma family linked to breakaway party'

“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,” Zuma said.

The courts were not perfect, and although he did not want to disrespect judges, they sometimes made mistakes, he added.

“But there are appeal processes, in case I am found guilty.”

He also defended the Guptas against 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, the judiciary and the executive. They captured none of these,” Zuma said.

He was not leaving the ANC, he added. “People who think I will leave the ANC to form another party are just dreaming. They don’t really know me.”

Zuma was addressing the crowd who filled a small marquee erected close to his controversial multi- million-rand KwaDakadunuse homestead.

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

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

Among those he addressed were members of the Mazibuye Emasisweni group, who said they were conducting research on 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.

“To tell you the truth, 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 him are for him to guide and give us his perspective on the state of affairs of the country.

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

Ngcobo said consultations were exclusively held with those who believe in the economic freedom of black South Africans.

The group had not yet decided whether to form a political party, he added.

Pastors from various Christian denominations, including ANC MPL Vusi Dube, were invited to Thursday’s event.

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

Zuma made it clear that returning home to retire was the last thing on his mind. He said he would, as an ANC member, continue his fight for the liberation of blacks.

Event organiser Bishop Bheki Ngcobo also rejected claims that Zuma was behind the formation of a new party.

“There are people (Mazibuye members) who are here to create the impression that we are here to launch a new party. There is no new party here, we are here to pray,” he said. - Additional reporting by Zimasa Matiwane

The Mercury