Zuma cancels Free State walkabout
Thaba Nchu - President Jacob Zuma cancelled his visit to Thaba Nchu in the Free State on Thursday morning, where he was due to interact with locals as part of the ANC's centenary programme.
The party's national executive committee (NEC) member Aaron Motsoaledi, who is also health minister, took over Zuma's programme, which would have included a visit to Thaba Nchu's minibus taxi rank and various wards in the town.
ANC spokesperson Keith Khoza said another NEC member, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, would take over the other leg of the programme in Botshabelo, about 10km from Thaba Nchu, later in the day.
Party spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said he did not know the reason for the cancellation.
Zuma had been scheduled to arrive for his walkabout at 10:00. The few police officers waiting for him at the minibus taxi rank left after hearing he was no longer going to arrive.
Many national ANC leaders are already in the province, going on door-to-door visits to encourage local party members to attend festivities for the party's centenary. ANC national executive committee members would visit all the regions in the Free State until Saturday. The main celebration would start on Friday.
On Saturday, there would be intercultural events at the Mangaung outdoor sports grounds and a music show featuring well-known South African DJs and artists.
Zuma would conclude the three-day event with his annual January 8 speech, in which he would pay tribute to struggle heroes and former presidents of the movement.
More than 100 000 people were expected to attend festivities in the province, where the South African Native National Congress was founded on January 8, 1912. It was renamed the African National Congress in 1923.
The party said all were welcome and no accreditation was needed. The army had been deployed to ensure security, particularly because of the 46 foreign heads of state who had confirmed their attendance. They included Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, Nigeria's Goodluck Jonathan and Uganda's Yoweri Museveni.
It was still unclear if former president Nelson Mandela would attend.