The Daily Sun newspaper reported on Friday that Zuma had told supporters in KwaNyamazane, Mpumalanga, that he used witchcraft to bewitch the Boers during apartheid.
Presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj said in a statement that Zuma had told supporters that, while in exile in Swaziland, he used to infiltrate South Africa through the KwaNyamazane area to do underground political work.
"I used to practise witchcraft around here, bewitching the Boers during apartheid", Zuma reportedly said.
He said the underground operations in which Zuma participated were referred to as "ukuthakatha" [witchcraft], which implied bewitching the authorities by outwitting them.
"It appears that some journalists, who probably do not understand the isiZulu language, did a literal translation and lost the meaning," Maharaj said. – Sapa