Former president Jacob Zuma gets into the swing of things and joins supporters in singing and dancing at the National Interfaith Council of South Africa welcoming home ceremony for him in his Nkandla hometown. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency (ANA)
FORMER president Jacob Zuma yesterday denounced claims that he would soon leave the ANC to lead a breakaway party that will split the govering party's votes next year.

Addressing hundreds of supporters during a prayer service in his Nkandla hometown, Zuma said he would remain with the ANC, and fight to correct 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. The former president was addressing a crowd in a packed small marquee erected on an open field a stone’s throw from his controversial multimillion rand Nkandla homestead.

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

“They are making noises 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 to establish the possibility of forming a new political party to contest next year’s 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 president Zuma to lead the new party. He started the economic struggle and he has to complete it,” said Ngcobo.

“Our meetings with president Zuma are for him to guide us and to give us his perspective on the current 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,” Ngcobo said.

Ngcobo said consultations were exclusively held 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 the undignified end to his second term as president.

Traditional leaders 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 he would, as an ANC member, continue his fight for the liberation of black people.

He said 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. The only crime 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 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 Guptas. “The state is made up of three spheres of government, Parliament, judiciary and executive. They captured none of these.”

Event organiser Bishop Bheki Ngcobo also rejected claims that Zuma was behind the formation of a new party. “There are people (Mazibuye members) here who (want) to create the impression we are here to launch a new party. There is no new party here, we are here to pray.” - Additional reporting by Zimasa Matiwane