Zuma talks to commuters, skips Mandela service

2014-03-02 10:00

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President Jacob Zuma will be wooing early morning commuters at Joburg’s Park Station instead of attending a special memorial service for Nelson Mandela in London tomorrow.

Also on Zuma’s schedule for the day is usual ANC business, including a meeting with party officials, a top ANC member said.

Zuma was set to attend the service in honour for Mandela at Westminster Abbey.

It was initially postponed from February 11 – which was two days before his state of the nation address – to accommodate his schedule.

The Abbey was this week reported to be understanding but “disappointed” about Zuma’s decision.

Diplomatic sources played down the incident, saying it was unlikely to cause strain between the two countries.

Zuma is not the only high-profile person to pull out of the service: Britain’s Queen Elizabeth announced she would be sending her grandson Prince Harry instead.

The presidency this week said it was a “very, very busy period” for Zuma. While other ANC leaders were on the campaign trail locally, Zuma went to Harare yesterday to attend the lavish wedding of President Robert Mugabe’s 24-year-old daughter, Bona.

A source close to Zuma said the decision to cancel his UK visit – which the presidency earlier advised would be a working visit from March 2-4 – came before he received the wedding invitation.

Zuma is also set to have meetings in Harare around “the economic side of things” in Zimbabwe.

There were rumours that Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema was also invited to the wedding, but Malema said he was not invited. Billionaire businessman Patrice Motsepe attended.

Zuma is scheduled to address a youth jobs indaba organised by the presidency in Boksburg today.

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