Johannesburg - Former president Jacob Zuma said on Monday he continues to be vilified and that attempts were made by foreign and local intelligence agents to remove him from his organisation, the African National Congress (ANC).
Appearing for the first time before the Zondo-led commission of inquiry into State capture, Zuma made a long opening statement, saying that he was a victim of a character assassination campaign for over three decades, starting from when he was ANC head of intelligence.
"There has been a drive to remove me from the scene. It arises out of my work in the ANC and also because of who I am. This conspiracy against me has been stretched at all material times whenever things were done or said."
He said in 1990, while in the country, he received an intelligence report saying that three intelligence organisations, one local and linked to the apartheid government, and two foreign intelligence agencies plotted to have him removed as ANC intelligence head and ultimately from the organisation. A "character assassination of Zuma" plan was set into motion, he said.
"After receiving the report, I had a discussion with my colleague Joe Nhlanhla. We asked ourselves 'Why Zuma'? We searched for answers and found that the reason was because I had a lot of intelligence information as intelligence chief. There were spies who infiltrated the organisation. The plan was to nurture these people so they grow and lead the ANC."