Parliamentary boo-boo: Jacob Zuma is too sick for Sona after all

Parliament said on Wednesday morning that Jacob Zuma would attend Sona. Then in the afternoon it said he would not be attending. The Jacob Zuma Foundation backed this up, saying his medical condition prevented him from being there. Zuma's lawyers said he was receiving medical treatment in another country. File photo.
Parliament said on Wednesday morning that Jacob Zuma would attend Sona. Then in the afternoon it said he would not be attending. The Jacob Zuma Foundation backed this up, saying his medical condition prevented him from being there. Zuma's lawyers said he was receiving medical treatment in another country. File photo.
Image: Thuli Dlamini

Parliament made an abrupt U-turn on Wednesday, saying that former president Jacob Zuma would not attend the state of the nation address (Sona) after all.

Zuma's lawyers also indicated in a short statement that he would not be attending, as did the JGZ Foundation.

Parliament's announcement about Zuma's non-attendance, made on Twitter, came not long after it had tweeted that the embattled former president would attend the event.

The initial announcement caused shock, with many questioning how Zuma would attend when, just over a week-and-a-half earlier, he was said to be too sick to stand trial in Pietermaritzburg.

But just after 2pm parliament released a second statement saying it "erroneously" included Zuma in the list of former heads of state attending Thursday's address.

President Cyril Ramaphosa will address the nation on Thursday night and, as is traditional, former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe are expected to be in attendance.

Zuma's lawyers, Lungisani Mantsha Inc, said on Tuesday afternoon: "Our instructions remain that president Zuma is currently receiving medical treatment in a foreign country and will therefore not be attending Sona."

The firm said it "did not know how and where" parliament obtained the incorrect information about Zuma's attendance.

On Tuesday, Zuma's JGZ Foundation said that Zuma did receive an invitation to attend the address, "which is appreciated".

"The former state president will, however, not be able to attend the Sona due to his health condition. The director-general in the presidency, as a proper communication channel, has been informed in this regard.

"We hope and trust that the above will give clarity to the media reports and speculations that arose earlier today [Wednesday]," the foundation wrote.


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