Zuma hosts Emir of Qatar under cover of darkness for fear of protest embarrassment

Fearing the embarrassment of a hostile march on their front lawn, the Presidency in an unprecedented move, is hosting a state visit at night.

And the guest — the Emir of Qatar heading one of the wealthiest nations in the world — is livid. 

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamid Al Thani, was scheduled for a state visit on Wednesday, ordinarily a pomp and ceremony affair with the singing of national anthems and a photo op before the two leaders retreat for talks. This usually transpires during the day. But with thousands expected to join the Union Buildings march to try and force President Jacob Zuma from power, state security officials recommended the visit be hosted a day early, a senior government source confirmed.

Considerate of the current political climate, the emir and his entourage agreed to the request from the Presidency, creating a whirlwind of logistical rearrangement, a member of the Qatari entourage confirmed.

On Tuesday, Zuma allegedly changed his mind again, informing his Middle Eastern counterpart that the State visit should continue as initially planned, for Wednesday.

“When the emir and his people were told they blew their tops and refused to be treated like yo-yos. They insisted on Tuesday night,” said the government source.

The presidency has denied that the State visit was moved because of the National Day of Action march.

The State visit was scheduled to kick off at 8.00pm on Tuesday.

“What a joke! The leader of the richest country on earth treated like this, unbelievable!” said a member of the Qatari delegation.

The presidency this evening said that because the emir “felt he would be ready for the state visit” today, it was decided to go ahead with the function this evening instead of Wednesday.


“The Emir arrived today from Kenya where he had a meeting. And on his arrival he felt he would be ready for the state visit. So that’s why the visit is happening tonight,” said presidential spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga.

“It’s not about the march. These meetings usually start at 10 o’clock in the morning and by 11 o’ clock they are done. By the time the march started the meeting would have long been over,” he said.

READ MORE: EFF and others schedule #ZumaMustFall 2.0 for president’s birthday

On Friday last week tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets calling for Zuma to step down as president of the country. At least 25 000 people converged on the Union Buildings.

Wednesday’s scheduled National Day of Action march to the Union Buildings organised by the Economic Freedom Fighters, the Democratic Alliance, the United Democratic Movement (UDM), Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) and the Congress of the People (COPE) is expected to bring an even larger crowd.

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Advertising

Where is the deputy president?

David Mabuza is hard at work — it’s just not taking place in the public eye. The rumblings and discussion in the ANC are about factions in the ruling party, succession and ousting him

Zuma turns on judiciary as trial nears

Former president says pre-trial correspondence is part of another plot

SANDF inquiry clears soldiers of the death of Collins Khosa

The board of inquiry also found that it was Khosa and his brother-in-law Thabiso Muvhango who caused the altercation with the defence force members

Lockdown relief scheme payouts to employees tops R14-billion

Now employers and employees can apply to the Unemployment Insurance Fund for relief scheme payments
Advertising

Press Releases

Covid-19 and Back to School Webinar

If our educators can take care of themselves, they can take care of the children they teach

5G technology is the future

Besides a healthcare problem Covid-19 is also a data issue and 5G technology, with its lightning speed, can help to curb its spread

JTI off to court for tobacco ban: Government not listening to industry or consumers

The tobacco ban places 109 000 jobs and 179 000 wholesalers and retailers at risk — including the livelihood of emerging farmers

Holistic Financial Planning for Professionals Webinar

Our lives are constantly in flux, so it makes sense that your financial planning must be reviewed frequently — preferably on an annual basis

Undeterred by Covid-19 pandemic, China and Africa hold hands, building a community of a shared future for mankind

It is clear that building a community with a shared future for all mankind has become a more pressing task than ever before

Wills, Estate Administration and Succession Planning Webinar

Capital Legacy has had no slowdown in lockdown regarding turnaround with clients, in storing or retrieving wills and in answering their questions

Call for Expression of Interest: Training supply and needs assessment to support the energy transition in South Africa

GIZ invites eligible and professional companies with local presence in South Africa to participate in this tender to support the energy transition

Obituary: Mohammed Tikly

His legacy will live on in the vision he shared for a brighter more socially just future, in which racism and discrimination are things of the past

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday