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Will he or won’t he? Parly now unsure of Zuma’s Sona attendance

On Wednesday morning, Parliament announced that Jacob Zuma would attend President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Sona on Thursday evening, but later stated that the confirmation was premature.

Former President Jacob Zuma addressing his supporters outside the state capture commission on 19 July 2019. Picture: Abigail Javier/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – Parliament has on Thursday come out to correct itself after it said former President Jacob Zuma would be attending the 2020 State of the Nation Address (Sona).

Earlier on Wednesday, Parliament confirmed that Zuma would be attending President Cyril Ramaphosa’s third Sona on Thursday evening.

In a tweet released on Wednesday afternoon, Parliament said confirmation that Zuma would indeed be attending was premature: “In confirming list of former presidents who have confirmed attendance of Sona, an earlier tweet erroneously included Former President Jacob Zuma. The confirmation was premature; an accurate update will be given later today. The error is regretted,” the tweet read.

Questions are being raised about the news that former Zuma could be attending Thursday's Sona in Cape Town despite being ill recently.

Earlier this month, the former president's lawyers told the Pietermaritzburg High Court that he could not attend a pre-trial conference for his corruption case because he was sick. He was reportedly receiving medical treatment in Cuba.

The judge questioned the authenticity of his sick note, asking if it was even written by a real doctor.

Karl Niehaus, who is part of the Radical Economic Transformation support group for Zuma, said the former president should be understood and judged in the right context.

“That context should include that he’s always told the courts that he’s an elderly statesman and that there is absolutely no flight risk and there is no need for a warrant of arrest to simply then cast negative aspersions.”

Political analyst Levy Ndou explained why he thought Zuma would be attending Sona.

“President Zuma has been removed unceremoniously from power and one would say maybe he’s started to accept it as a disciplined member of the ANC, the former president of the ANC and country.”

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