Former President Jacob Zuma made it clear his comrades were out to get him when he began giving evidence to the Zondo Commission in Johannesburg.

Supporters clapped and cheered as Zuma walked into the hearing where he is expected to answer scores of questions for the rest of the week on everything from the controversial Gupta family to the hundreds of thousands he is alleged to have taken as a bribe every from the security company BOSASA. Zuma told the hearing that he was there because he believed it was important that people say things they know, that than telling things they can’t prove.

“Ï have been vilified over the years!” Zuma told the commission clearing his throat frequently and blaming a bout of flu.

This commission from my understanding was really created to have me coming here and perhaps to find things on me…This is why, in the background I am going to give…There has been a drive to remove me from everything a wish that I should disappear…Why it is important I will deal with…Work in the ANC and also because of who I am…This conspiracy against me has been stressed at all material times when there are things to be done. It has come in different forms and that is why people who are trying to dodge things in one thing or another. I am going to connect the dots as to why I am here.”

Zuma claimed that three intelligence organisations, one from South Africa, in 1990 decided to remove Zuma, then head of ANC intelligence, from all structures in the party. He claimed it was a clear character assassination on the grounds that he had information that his party had been infiltrated by spies.

Zuma also claimed his removal from power in 2005, in reaction to South Africa’s controversial arms deal, smacked of a campaign against him.

“Before I was charged, I was removed as deputy president in 2005 because I was implicated in the arms deal. Of all the people implicated in the arms deal there was not a single one investigated but they investigated me. I had been investigated in a very strange way, the head of the NPA and the minister where they announced there is a prima facie case against him but it is not winnable in court. There are investigations and then there are investigations. I have never heard of an investigation against anyone being run like that in the media.”

The hearing continues.