Ailing Zuma won't attend first Cabinet lekgotla

President Jacob Zuma. (AFP)

President Jacob Zuma. (AFP)

President Jacob Zuma, who spent time in hospital over the weekend suffering from exhaustion, will miss his new government’s first meeting, which begins on Tuesday, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said.

“President Zuma will miss the Cabinet meeting and continue to rest at home this week,” said Ramaphosa, who is standing in for Zuma during his recuperation. Zuma left hospital late on Sunday, the day after he was admitted for routine tests. 

The 72-year-old leader checked into hospital on Saturday after officials from his party had asked him on Friday to take a break because “the punishing election programme was taking its toll, not on him only, [but] on many of us”, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said. 

Zuma was sworn in for a second term two weeks ago after his ANC party won the May 7 elections with an overwhelming 62% of the vote. His office said the president has two “major” routine medical examinations each year – in January and in June. “This time round, the doctors felt he needed to be hospitalised for a thorough check up following a demanding schedule,” said the presidency. 

‘Just needed time to rest’
Earlier, Bongi Ngema-Zuma, one of the president’s wives, told reporters that he was “doing very well” and “just needed time to rest”. Zuma’s office said he had already met with all his new ministers and deputy ministers in May to go over the policy priorities and his expectations of them. 

On Monday evening, presidency spokesperson Mac Maharaj reiterated Ramaphosa’s worrds, saying Zuma will not attend the upcoming Cabinet lekgotla.

The lekgotla would run from June 10 to June 12 and would be chaired by the deputy president, Maharaj said.

On Friday, the ANC leadership said Zuma was instructed to take a break as the election campaign had taken its toll on him. Mantashe said the party’s election campaign had been punishing and all senior members of the party would take time off one after the other to “re-energise”. – AFP, additional reporting by Sapa


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