In the unprecedented interview with the SABC, Zuma said he would respond to the decision to recall him later.
“It’s just two months from conference. I think we are being plunged into a crisis. My leaders will regret this. Some of my comrades may not like this,” Zuma said.
However, he was unclear on whether he will resign or not, hinting he is still open to negotiation.
The ANC has given Zuma until Wednesday to resign following its decision to recall him.
He said the party also hinted that it was open to negotiation in its official letter informing him of the decision.
The letter was delivered by secretary general Ace Magashule and his deputy Jessie Duarte on Tuesday morning.
Zuma still maintained his innocence, repeatedly saying that the party’s top six, led by party president Cyril Ramaphosa, had failed to give him reasons and facts on why they are recalling him.
“I have not defied but disagree with a decision taken. It is baseless; no motivation that says it’s fine. [When you are recalled] you must be convinced with facts… even if you don’t agree with them. It is being done in a manner that I am being victimised here,” Zuma said.
In his continued defence that he is not defying the ANC, Zuma said he understood the powers of the party to deploy and recall its deployees, using his experience as a senior official in the party’s armed wing Umkhonto we Sizwe during the struggle for liberation as an example.
“[The] ANC can deploy and remove [cadres]. I totally agree and I did this at times. I deployed soldiers to go and fight inside the country, even in [circumstances] where they might be killed or arrested…. deploying cadres is what I know best,” he said.
However, he said the positions of president and deputy president of the ANC were exceptions, adding that they are elected through conference and can’t be removed “willy nilly”.
The ANC has said, in a short statement in reaction to Zuma’s interview with the public broadcaster, that it notes the “context to the decision of the NEC to recall”.
Zuma said the decision was rushed.
He also criticised the ANC caucus’s decision to co-sponsor the Economic Freedom Fighter’s motion of no confidence. It is due to be heard on Thursday, after the speaker conceded to moving it forward.
Zuma said they have not informed him of the motion of no confidence to tell him “we are moving if you don’t move”.
He however acknowledged that it was Parliament that elected him and which could take him out.
“One line [in the letter] says engagement is still open. In my response I was going to be doing, I am open to further discussion but they are rushing, taking decisions of vote of no confidence.”
He wondered what the rush was.
Zuma gave a detailed, uninterrupted account of events since talks for him to step down began.
Quit in June
He confirmed that he had offered to resign in June to introduce Ramaphosa to his “colleagues” in Brics, the African Union and regional body SADC.
Zuma said this would have shown that they were working together and that he was not being “elbowed out”
He claimed Ramaphosa agreed with his proposal.
“They agreed on six months – president [Ramaphosa] said on the point of appearing together, it would show that there is no animosity,” he said.
Zuma accused those who have argued that that there are currently two centres of power, with him at the Union Buildings and Ramaphosa at Luthuli House, of “immature politics”.
He said it was a “misunderstanding” that once a president of the ANC was elected, he should become the president of the country.
Zuma said Ramaphosa should rather be preparing the party for elections while he continues as state president.
He referred back to his removal as deputy president by then president Thabo Mbeki as the beginning of the ANC’s problems.
Mbeki fired him as his deputy in 2005, after his advisor was found guilty of corruption and fraud.
Zuma also claimed he never supported Mbeki’s recall when he became president of the ANC. He said he was defeated by the majority in the NEC.