Former president Jacob Zuma on Monday told his supporters that the ANC would have done better at the polls had he joined the party’s elections campaign earlier than he did.

Addressing throngs of his supporters at Pietermaritzburg’s Freedom Square following his appearance in the city’s high court, Zuma said his decision to join the ANC campaign helped change the minds of party supporters who did not want to vote for the ANC.

“There were these rumours that some of our people were planning not to vote for the ANC during the elections. I told them you can’t do that — if you have a problem with an individual in the ANC, you don’t punish the ANC.

“After the campaign I think there were still a few individuals who carried out their threats and did not vote the ANC. I think that the lower percentage we got in the elections was because of this talk that some people are not going to vote. Had I joined the ANC elections campaign earlier I would also have persuaded these few individuals who decided not to vote for the ANC,” he said.

Wearing a grey suit, Zuma — who is facing corruption charges in connection with his role in the state’s arms deal in the 90s — earlier took the crowd through Monday’s court proceedings. “My lawyers told the judges that the rights of the accused, Zuma, was violated by the investigators who, despite the previous judges who had found the accused not guilty on the very same charges, kept on recharging the accused.

“These charges are not new — they are 15 years old. My lawyers told the judges that unlike in the apartheid period where an accused was treated badly or even killed, the current democratic South Africa that we live under requires that the rights of an accused be respected,” he said.

Zuma then cited the spy types that allegedly feature then senior officials in the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) plotting against him, as proof that his rights were violated. “Someone who was the head of the Scorpions but at that time had already left the Scorpions still continued to give instructions to the investigators and saying, ‘what are you waiting for, you must charge him’.

“There was a political element in their investigation and one of those people investigating the case was even saying I should be arrested before the ANC Polokwane conference.”

Most of Zuma’s supporters had previously expressed their disapproval of President Cyril Ramaphosa, who formed part of the ANC leadership’s decision to axe Zuma as SA’s president at the beginning of last year.

Without mentioning Ramaphosa by name, Zuma told his supporters to assist in building a stronger ANC so that they could have the power to remove individuals they feel were not serving the party well. “If as ANC members you are weak and not growing the ANC then you won’t have the power to remove a person that you believe is doing some wrong things within the ANC,” he said.

Zuma was accompanied by his sons, Edward and Duduzane, during Monday’s court proceedings

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