“I’m a citizen now, I can say whatever I want to say about them. I’ll defend myself,” he said on Friday.
He also accused his detractors of being corrupt.
“Some say that I’m corrupt. I know some of them, they are also corrupt. I’ll talk about their corrupt activities too. They should not think that they have a right to say anything about anyone. If they continue talking about me, they’ll get what’s coming to them,” he said.
Zuma was addressing a large crowd of supporters after he appeared in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban.
He is facing 16 charges relating to 783 payments, which he allegedly received in connection with the controversial multibillion-rand arms deal.
‘I’m not scared’
He said he was publicly asking his critics to stop speaking about him “because they also spoke about me in public”.
“I’m not scared. I know politics, I’m not taking chances,” he said to loud cheers.
He also lambasted those who had linked him to the formation of a new political party.
“Did you even engage me about that before speaking about it in public?” he asked.
The SACP’s general secretary Blade Nzimande reportedly said on Sunday that Zuma should disassociate himself from talk about the formation of a new party.
He reportedly said this after the communist party’s three-day meeting at the weekend.
“They keep saying that I’m corrupt but don’t say what I did. I don’t provoke anyone. They must stop talking about me in their organisations. They shouldn’t make me their agenda and after that call a media briefing to talk about me,” he said.
He said he had been quiet for years because he had to behave himself as he was still the president of the country.
Mahumapelo defends Zuma
Zuma said he would be alone in the dock when he appears in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg on July 27.
He said his co-accused were still challenging the decision to prosecute them.
Zuma told his supporters that he was being charged for being among those who negotiated the arms deal.
“I also wish to know how I ended up in this matter because I was still at provincial level at the time. The matter was dealt with at national level,” he said adding that at the time, he was still an MEC in KwaZulu-Natal.
Former North West premier Supra Mahumapelo said it was unfair for some media companies to find Zuma guilty before he had gone through all the court processes.
Mahumapelo also took a swipe at the ANC’s national executive committee for its decision to restrict ANC members from attending Zuma’s case as members of the party. If members wanted to attend, they would have to do so in their personal capacity.
No new party
“It is wrong for some of us who are leaders to say we mustn’t be seen closer to Zuma. Whoever says stay away from Zuma must be examined in their heads,” he said.
He said an attack on the leaders of the revolution was an attack on their supporters.
“Anyone attacking the leaders of the revolution is attacking you. We’re here to support president Jacob Zuma because what is done to him is wrong. We will support him no matter the consequences,” he said.
Mahumapelo also rubbished claims that the North West, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Free State provinces were planning to form a new political party.
“We’re not forming any new party, we will die in the ANC,” he said.
Eastern Cape ANC heavyweight Andile Lungisa said they were there to support Zuma, the leader of their revolution.
“We are talking about a hero of our liberation struggle. When we talk about the economy and land in this country, [former] president Jacob Zuma is a leader of that revolution,” he said.
He said the land matter wouldn’t be resolved by amending the country’s Constitution.
“If we think we are going to take land through peaceful means in this country, then we are playing,” he said.
Former ministers under Zuma’s Cabinet Des van Rooyen and Faith Muthambi and former SABC COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng were among those in court to support Zuma.
A night vigil was held on Thursday ahead of Zuma’s court appearance.
Zuma’s supporters also marched from King Dinizulu Park to court on Friday morning.