​Will Zuma attend Sona? Wait & see…

Parliament has not officially received former president Jacob Zuma’s decision to decline an invitation to attend the State of the Nation address on Friday, despite reports that he won’t pitch up.

SAfm reported on Friday that Zuma had declined the invitation, which was sent to him late Thursday afternoon, parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said.

“It will be difficult to say that he has confirmed or not. Unlike other heads of states that have been invited already and have already indicated they will attend, he only received his yesterday,” Mothapo said. “It’s like a last minute invitation due to the circumstances we are all aware of.”

Former president Thabo Mbeki and former deputy president FW De Klerk have both confirmed their attendance, Mothapo said, with former interim president Kgalema Motlanthe also planning to attend, the Mail & Guardian has learnt.

Former speakers of the national assembly Frene Ginwala and Max Sisulu have also confirmed their attendance.

Newly elected president Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver his first State of the Nation Address as head of state after he was sworn in at the official presidential residency Tuynhuys on Thursday afternoon.

Mothapo said other special guests include members of the diplomatic corps and Southern African Development Community, but no heads of states from other African countries or elsewhere in the world will be in attendance.

This year’s honoured guests at the Sona will be a group of school children who won a competition to attend the gathering on radio. Mothapo said their presence was hugely significant as parliament continues its bid to up public participation in the national legislature.

Meanwhile, social media has been flooded with rumours that Zuma’s supporters will hold a welcome back bash for him in KwaZulu-Natal over the weekend.

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Govan Whittles

Govan Whittles is a general news and political multimedia journalist at the Mail & Guardian. Born in King William's Town in the Eastern Cape, he cut his teeth as a radio journalist at Primedia Broadcasting. He produced two documentaries and one short film for the Walter Sisulu University, and enjoys writing about grassroots issues, national politics, identity, heritage and hip-hop culture.

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