Former South African president Jacob Zuma arrives to appear before the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture on July 15, 2019 in Johannesburg Picture: WIKUS DE WET / POOL / AFP
Former South African president Jacob Zuma arrives to appear before the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture on July 15, 2019 in Johannesburg Picture: WIKUS DE WET / POOL / AFP

Former president Jacob Zuma has confirmed that he believes the Zondo inquiry into state capture is the culmination of a global intelligence plot to “get rid” of him.

Inquiry evidence leader Paul Pretorius asked Zuma if he believed that the inquiry was part of the “conspiracy” he has detailed in his evidence so far. Zuma says two foreign intelligence agencies and a local one have been part of an effort to remove or even kill him, because they believe he has information on certain unnamed people they have identified as potential leaders of the ANC. That plot was hatched in the 1990s, Zuma said.

“Yes, I said so,” Zuma said.

Pretorius then asked if the evidence given by nine witnesses, including current and former ministers Pravin Gordhan, Ngoako Ramatlhodi and Barbara Hogan, “formed part of this conspiracy”.

“No,” said Zuma, “I did not necessarily say it forms part from them as individuals … because they came in on specific details.”

He maintains he was concerned that former public protector Thuli Madonsela initially did not have money to investigate alleged state capture, but “then got money”.

Zuma is now answering questions by Pretorius, after his attorney, Daniel Mantsha, hit out at the state capture inquiry, saying it did not “have the licence to do what whatever it wants” in terms of its questioning of Zuma.

Mantsha told deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo that he had “disengaged” from the inquiry, after it refused to provide Zuma with the questions he would face from evidence leader Pretorius.

“I wash my hands of this,” he said.

As a consequence, Mantsha had not handed over two files brought to his office by inquiry staff — containing the evidence that Zuma now faces questions over — to the former president. He told Zondo that because he had disengaged, “whatever you bring to my office is at your peril”.

Mantsha also sought to undermine the testimony given by former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor, who alleges that she told Zuma that Ajay Gupta had offered her the position of public enterprises minister almost a decade ago.

He argued that Mentor had been shown to have got a number of details about her alleged meeting with Gupta wrong, including the layout of their home, and suggested she had been discredited as a witness.

“Are you really calling [Zuma] to answer things … that right now there is no proof?” he said.

He was then interrupted by Zondo, who repeatedly asked him to focus on the issue at hand.

Zuma is answering questions about the evidence of former government communications head Themba Maseko, whose evidence he admits he has read. Maseko says Zuma called him and asked him to assist the Gupta family, who he was meeting over state advertising in their New Age newspaper.

The former president testified earlier on Monday that it had been him who pushed the Guptas to open the newspaper and their television station ANN7, because he believed SA media were overly negative and not progressive.