Former president Jacob Zuma will not be attending Thursday’s State of the Nation Address (Sona).
On Wednesday, the legislature announced on its Twitter account that Zuma would be attending President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address to the nation. In a media statement issued later on Wednesday, Zuma’s attorneys confirmed he would not be attending as he is “currently in a foreign country receiving medical treatment.”
It would have been Zuma’s first public appearance since a warrant for his arrest was issued by the Pietermaritzburg high court last week. Earlier, Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo contradicted the initial tweet, saying there has been no confirmation from the former head of state. “That tweet was sent out in error and we are investigating what happened,” he said.
But Mothapo did add that former presidents are always welcome to attend Sona. “The seat is always reserved for former presidents,” he said. “We will be waiting till the last minute.”
Zuma’s health became a focal point last week after the Pietermaritzburg high court said it was not satisfied with a medical certificate stating he was unfit to attend proceedings.
Zuma had also excused himself from appearing at the Zondo commission of inquiry, citing health problems.
Last week Parliament’s presiding officers, National Assembly speaker Thandi Modise and National Council of Provinces chairperson Amos Masondo, announced that former presidents Kgalema Motlanthe and Thabo Mbeki will both be at the Parliamentary precinct for Ramaphosa’s speech.
South Africa’s last apartheid president, FW De Klerk, has indicated that he will also be attending. Former speakers of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete and Frene Ginwala, are also listed as attending.