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Former SA President Jacob Zuma releases book defending his tenure

A woman holds a copy of a book titled “Jacob Zuma Speaks” after buying it outside a McDonalds fast-food restaurant in Johannesburg on December 12, 2021.   -  
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PHILL MAGAKOE/AFP or licensors

South Africa

South Africa's former president Jacob Zuma, accused of orchestrating the systematic plunder of government coffers during his rule, launched a new book on Sunday in which he intends "to the set record straight".

Titled "Jacob Zuma Speaks", the book comes after the 79-year-old was released from prison in September due to ill health, just two months into a 15-month sentence for continually refusing to appear before a corruption inquiry into his 2009-18 presidency.

Zuma's spokesman Mzwanele Manyi said the book can be bought for 300 rands ($19) -- or 1,000 rands ($62) for a signed copy -- at "Car Boot sales" in Johannesburg on Sunday.

Many and the ex-president's daughter Dudu Zuma-Sambudla would be at a McDonald's in the city's upmarket Sandton suburb selling the books, he tweeted.

"1st come, 1st served," he added.

Zuma was found guilty in June after refusing to obey a court order to appear before a commission probing "state capture" -- the siphoning off of national assets, which occurred on a massive scale under his nine-year tenure.

His initial imprisonment in July sparked an unprecedented wave of violence in which more than 350 people died in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal and financial hub Johannesburg.

Since being released on medical parole, Zuma has returned to his $17 million estates in rural Nkandla.

He looked healthy in a video appearance on Friday promoting the book launch.

In the video he lashed out at the "untruth about the work that we have done", emphasizing the importance for society "to know what has happened".

"There is no use to create stories because you have a powerful machinery to do so," he said, sitting in front of a stack of his books, arms crossed and smiling.

Critics accuse the ex-president of using ill health as an excuse to further delay a drawn-out corruption trial relating to a 1999 purchase of arms from five European firms.

Deputy president at the time, Zuma is accused of pocketing bribes from French defense giant Thales and faces 16 charges of fraud, graft and racketeering.

He has repeatedly claimed the justice system was hounding him for political motives.

"Jacob Zuma Speaks", written in the third person, contains testimonies from former allies who have since fallen silent, spokesman Manyi said.

"All has been said about the presidency of Jacob Zuma. A lot of falsehoods, a lot of untruths have been told. This book is about setting the record straight," he said

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