Zuma calls off UK trip over Cameron’s snub

2014-10-26 10:15
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Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma has called off a trip to the UK after Prime Minister David Cameron declined to meet with him, suggesting instead a meeting with his deputy Nick Clegg and Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond.

According to the Sunday Times, urgent meetings were held in Pretoria on Saturday in an unsuccessful bid to save the visit - despite some Presidency staff and SABC correspondents already being in London for the visit.

Zuma was due to have been in London from Monday.

This turn of events has however strained relations between the two countries, reports the newspaper, stating that one official said a suggested meeting between Zuma and Clegg was “not good enough for Msholozi’s people”.

An official said that “Zuma’s people wanted a meeting with Cameron”. When the Brits refused and offered Clegg and Hammond instead, Zuma rejected the offer. The UK then warned that if Zuma refused the offer, his trip to the UK would be considered a private one.

This meant the UK would not have extended state protocol, including security, for Zuma.

South African VIP protection officers would then not be able to carry firearms while in the UK and private security would be out of the question.

Zuma was to have given the keynote address at the InnovaBrics conference on Monday, attend a South African Chamber of Commerce breakfast on Tuesday and give a public lecture at Chatham House.

Trip cancelled

Fin24 reported on the cancellation on Friday night after the Presidency issued a statement to that effect.

The statement read: "His Excellency President Jacob Zuma will no longer attend the 3rd Annual innovaBRICS Conference in London, United Kingdom which takes place on 27 October 2014."

"The country and the president will be represented by four ministers. The delegation will be led by the Minister in the Presidency, Dr Jeff Radebe, and comprises Dr Rob Davies, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Nhlanhla Nene, the Minister of Finance, and Ms Faith Muthambi, the Minister of Communications."

The presidency did not however, give reasons for Zuma's cancellation. Attempts to get hold of the presidency's spokesperson Mac Maharaj were not successful.

According to the office, the country's international marketing agency, Brand South Africa, has been a lead partner with innovaBRICS, a business networking forum, since its inception in 2012.

The presidency said the forum was an important marketing forum for South Africa and Cabinet ministers to attend sessions on behalf of the country each year.

"South Africa's participation in the conference will be within the context of promoting the National Development Plan and promoting the country as a prime business destination.

"The ministers will engage with UK business leaders and opinion makers in various forums during the visit," the presidency said.

Read more on:    brics  |  nick clegg  |  david cameron  |  jacob zuma

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