Exclusive: ‘I ain’t going nowhere’

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PRESIDENT ZUMA OPENS UP IN A RARE INTERVIEW

AS HE winds down his final term as ANC president, Jacob Zuma has vowed to complete his term as leader of the country.

He has also promised a thorough investigation into allegations of state capture including a “broad terms of reference” to weed out corruption in the highest echelons of the state.

A bullish Zuma told The New Age in an exclusive interview that he was ready to set the record straight and the proposed judicial commission of inquiry would leave no stone unturned in its attempts to uncover the truth.

“There is going to be a commission of inquiry with broad terms of reference because we don’t want to leave anything out and through that process I am sure that those who are corrupt, they will come out. It’s not going to be choosy,” Zuma said.

He said that while former public protector Thuli Madonsela was merely “doing her job”, when she released her State of Capture report, he believed the release of the report may have been motivated by “political reasons”. “Many people were waiting for interviews to clarify their position.

I think there were political reasons, that this report was supposed to be used to deal with a number of people, I think so. “We couldn’t agree on the manner in which she did it. I am sure the judicial probe could throw more light on it.”

Regarding attempts to poison him, Zuma confirmed that some people “wanted him dead”. “It is a reality, I was poisoned. Yes, some people wanted me dead. It was a strong poison. I went through challenging times. There are forces that want us to move in a particular direction.

These forces are willing to go far in order to achieve their ends,” he said. Reflecting on the problems within the ANC and the alliance, Zuma said that because of the strength of the ruling party, there were attempts to weaken it.

“The difficulty these forces face in SA is the ANC. The ANC has been too strong for them, so I think they are trying to weaken the ANC. They are trying to create disagreements, factions within the ANC. Actually there are forces trying to influence, confuse and mislead people,” he said.

It is for this reason that Zuma said the ANC alliance should draw on lessons from its Polokwane conference, where unresolved leadership squabbles led to a haemorrhage of party membership and leadership through the formation of Cope.

“It would be very sad that people who are part of the organisation, because they reach a point where their candidate does not win – something which is routine in a democracy because there are elections all the time – you then want to leave the organisation,” Zuma said.

“At the beginning Cope looked like an organisation that was going to be serious, but I think it has shrunk almost to a few individuals today. “It’s funny. It says a lot about you as an individual. However, I don’t think that is going to happen.

I think we have just met recently with the alliance through the political council, where we were discussing some of the challenges among ourselves,” Zuma said. Commenting on whether the EFF would be welcomed back into the ANC, Zuma said that the “ANC has always been open”.

“The ANC wants unity, it wants many people to come together. We are not going to say no to anybody who wants to work with the ANC, but the specifics can’t be seen now.”

Zuma urged caution on the demand for free higher education. “Free education is a policy of the ANC. We can’t implement the policy of the ANC overnight, we have to take into account the state of the economy, funding and other things.

That is why we established a commission to look at this question. Very soon, we will be coming out with our view on the final points made by the commission,” he said.

BONOLO SELEBANO bonolos@thenewage.co.za

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