Zuma won’t attend Sona

2020-02-13 09:58
Former president Jacob Zuma looks on in the High Court in Pietermaritzburg during his trial for alleged corruption. (Themba Hadebe, Pool, AFP)

Former president Jacob Zuma looks on in the High Court in Pietermaritzburg during his trial for alleged corruption. (Themba Hadebe, Pool, AFP)

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The mystery around the whereabouts of former president Jacob Zuma, whose supporters claim is currently receiving treatment in Cuba, yesterday deepened following a parliamentary boo-boo announcing that he would be attending tonight’s State Of the Nation Address (Sona) in Cape Town.

Social media was abuzz after Parliament announced on Twitter that Zuma would be one of the VIP guests.

Zuma’s lawyers stated: “We do not know how and where Parliament obtained this incorrect information ... Zuma is currently receiving medical treatment in a foreign country and will therefore not be attending the Sona.”

The statement didn’t provide any details on which foreign country Zuma is receiving medical attention in, and for which condition.

The JG Zuma Foundation also confirmed that the corruption-accused former president will not attend Sona.

Zuma’s supporters reacted with outrage to Parliament’s statement, with Mkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) spokesperson Carl Niehaus describing Parliament’s claims as a “continuation of Zuma’s humiliation”.

“It’s fake news,” he said.

Last week Pietermaritzburg high court Judge Daya Pillay issued a warrant of arrest against Zuma after the former president, who is facing corruption charges arising from his role in the arms deal in the 90s, had failed to attend court.

Pillay ruled that the sick note presented by Zuma’s lawyers in court was inadmissible as the document lacked detail.

On Friday The Witness reported that Zuma was in Cuba where he is receiving treatment for an undisclosed illness.

The fact that the courts seem not to believe that Zuma is unwell, Niehaus said, was confirmation that the former president was unlikely to get a fair trial. “What happened at the Pietermaritzburg high court is a blatant abuse of judiciary systems. What Judge Pillay did amounts to a political prosecution,” he said.

Zuma’s backers are using what they perceive as the Pietermaritzburg high court’s hostile attitude towards Zuma to boost his dwindling support.

While it is unclear when Zuma will be back in the country, Niehaus said a rally was being organised to welcome him at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport. “We have been talking for quite a long time but now is the time for action,” he said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  jacob zuma

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