Former South Africa President Jacob Zuma appears before a commission probing allegations of corruption during his tenure as the country's leader as president from 2009 until 2018, in Johannesburg Monday July 15, 2019. Zuma was forced to resign by…
Former South Africa President Jacob Zuma appears before a commission probing allegations of corruption during his tenure as the country's leader as president from 2009 until 2018, in Johannesburg, July 15, 2019.

Former South African president Jacob Zuma has denied allegations of corruption, saying he was a victim of conspiracies to end his career, ruin his reputation and kill him.

Addressing a commission of inquiry in Johannesburg, Zuma said his enemies had "a drive to remove me from the scene, a wish that I should disappear . . ."

The ex-South African leader said he has "been vilified" and has been a victim of "character assassination over 20 years."

Raymond Zondo, the lead judge in the probe, said, "The commission is not mandated to prove any case against anybody, but is mandated to investigate and inquire into certain allegations."  

Zuma was forced to resign from office last year by the ruling African National Congress party after being implicated in numerous corruption scandals.  In one instance, prosecutors accused him of using some $20 million in public funds for improvements at his private estate.

Speaking Monday, Zuma denied accusations that he allowed the wealthy Gupta business family to fraudulently profit from government contracts and select ministers in his Cabinet.

"I never did anything with them unlawfully, they just remained friends," he said.