South Africa's African National Congress (ANC) President Jacob Zuma sought to dispel notions of a cloud of suspicion hanging over his head at a media briefing since corruption charges against him were dropped.
"There is no cloud. There have been allegations against me and the State has not been able to put up the case. I have not been found guilty in a court of law," he said at the briefing after Kwa Zulu-Natal Judge President Vuka Tshabalala formally dropped corruption charges against him in the High Court in Durban.
Zuma was responding to questions from the media on why he opted not to have his name cleared in court.
Earlier, he said in a statement, "In the last eight years, I did not use my position to interfere with the due course of the law... and I always presented myself in court whenever needed."
On Monday, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) announced its decision to drop the 16 charges it was pursuing against Zuma after representations by the ANC leader's attorneys showed interference and an abuse of state institutions.
Zuma began the briefing on a light-hearted note, joking with journalists about "converting" them to vote for the ANC.
The jovial mood quickly dissipated as Zuma got down to business, highlighting the ordeal he and his family had been subjected to during the time the charges hung over him.
Zuma was "stunned" by the fact that in 2005 the NPA instituted charges against him first and then raided his offices and properties.
He described this as a "desperate act."
"It's an indication of a desperate act that they charged first and looked for evidence later... I had to turn to the courts," Zuma said.
Something clearly needed to be done to make the criminal justice system more effective to correct abuses and ensure human rights were not violated, he said.
Zuma believed there was something seriously wrong in the NPA and the executives needed to take action against former Directorate of Special Operations (DSO) Leonard McCarthy.
On Monday, acting NPA head Mokotedi Mpshe laid blame for the collapse of the case against Zuma squarely at McCarthy's door, saying he felt personally betrayed by his former colleague.
Mpshe said McCarthy had abused the legal process against Zuma for "collateral and illicit purposes," and that his conduct "offends one's sense of justice."
But the party leader said he did not hold any grudges.
"We have a country to run, not individuals to chase," he said, adding he was happy that he was vindicated.
He expressed fear that there could be a new trend in which political parties interfered in the legal system to secure votes. "They are playing a mischievous game," he said.
Zuma was speaking shortly after Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille filed an urgent application to the High Court in Pretoria requesting a review of the NPA's decision to drop the charges against Zuma.
The presidential candidate also accused some media of being actively involved in a conspiracy against him, saying the famous off-the-record briefing, which was held by former NPA boss Bulelani Ngcuka, contravened the notion of innocent until proven guilty.
Ngcuka, along with McCarthy, was implicated in the "conspiracy" against Zuma aimed at securing their preferred candidate as president.