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Conspiracies, Twitter and Robben Island: Jacob Zuma shares his thoughts

19 July 2019 - 10:56 By Iavan Pijoos
Former president Jacob Zuma said in an interview broadcast on Friday that there was a plot to assassinate his character.
Former president Jacob Zuma said in an interview broadcast on Friday that there was a plot to assassinate his character.

Former president Jacob Zuma is adamant that he is the target of "intense propaganda".

He was speaking to Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh in an interview broadcast on Friday on the author's WhatsApp news channel.

Zuma explained why he started his testimony at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture with details about a conspiracy against him.

"Chair, you will realise that me as an individual, I have been a subject of talk in this country for more than a decade. I have been vilified, alleged to be the king of corrupt people," he started off at the commission.

He told the commission that he had received an intelligence report saying there were three intelligence organisations that met to discuss him and planned a character assassination against him.

"I thought it was important to give that background, practically because I don't think people realise why I have been the target of very intense propaganda and allegations and many other things," said Zuma.

"If people did not know that background, it is difficult to appreciate why. I felt this commission in particular was a crucial step in that background that people should appreciate. 

"Even those who are running the commission, I felt that they should be aware that the commission itself is one of the dots that need to be linked to this background," Zuma told Mpofu-Walsh.

During the first half of the interview, Zuma seemed calm and made jokes with Mpofu-Walsh.

When asked about his reason for joining social media, Twitter in particular, he told Mpofu-Walsh that the main reason was to get his voice heard. 

"It was simply because people were talking a lot about me and very little of what I said came out. To be part of Twitter would help our views to be uncensored," he said.

He then spoke about his time on Robben Island and encounters with Nelson Mandela.

He said many political leaders were young when they were sent to Robben Island.

Zuma said they were separated from Mandela and the Rivonia trialists.

"It was not easy to meet. If we were punished for anything we would be sent to the isolation sections where you would serve your punishment. It was during that time where you would be able to have a little bit of contact but the wardens were very strict that we were not able to come together."

Zuma said they devised methods to communicate.

Mpofu-Walsh then asked: "Did you ever think in the 10 years you spent on the island alongside so many struggle veterans that you would actually one day rise to becoming president of SA?"

"When we went to Robben Island, I don't think anyone of us thought we would at some point in our lives be given the task [of] such enormous responsibilities to be a president of a country.  It never crossed our minds," said Zuma.