Zuma makes mystery trip to Doha - report

2018-09-23 16:20
Former president Jacob Zuma. (Photo: AFP)

Former president Jacob Zuma. (Photo: AFP)

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Former president Jacob Zuma made a trip to Doha this week apparently without clear confirmation to authorities as per the usual protocol, the Sunday Times reported.

The trip was apparently at the invitation of the Emir of Qatar, Sheik Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. The SA embassy in the country only became aware of the trip when a Qatari government official contacted them.

According to the Sunday Times, Ambassador Faizel Moosa wrote to International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu after he had received an email from a Qatari official.

The newspaper writes that protocol dictates that the Presidency, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) and the relevant embassy are informed when a former president makes an international trip such as this.

President Cyril Ramaphosa confirmed to the newspaper that he had heard about the trip taking place but that he knew nothing about its details.

Dirco spokesperson Ndivhuwo Mabaya said police had informed them of the trip. The Sunday Times said this seemed to be a reference to the presidential protection unit.

Zuma's office did not respond to questions by the newspaper as to the purpose of the trip.

In April last year, Zuma hosted the emir in an official state visit at the Union Buildings. 

At the time, Mail & Guardian reported that Zuma hosted the visit at night, which is unprecedented. 

According to the report, Zuma wanted to avoid being embarrassed by protesters who were trying to remove him from power. 

M&G quoted a member of the Qatari delegation saying it was a "joke" and "unbelievable" that Zuma should treat the emir with such disrespect. 

In March, Moosa said South Africa had a "soft spot" for that country. 

Speaking to The Peninsula, a Qatari newspaper, Moosa said South Africa had a great deal to offer to Qatar, not only exporting products, but also expertise in agriculture, among other things. 

News24 attempted to contact two Dirco spokespeople by phone and text message on Sunday but could not obtain comment. 

Once comment is received, it will be added. 

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