The Jacob Zuma Foundation has confirmed that the former president will not be attending the State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Thursday, after Parliament erroneously tweeted that he would be.
“In confirming the 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,” Parliament said on Wednesday.
Zuma’s appearance at SONA would have been controversial
The initial news that Zuma would be in attendance at SONA definitely caught people’s attention. The first thing that most likely came to everyone’s mind was: Is he not gravely ill? So ill that he couldn’t appear in court?
On 4 February, the Pietermaritzburg High Court was forced to postpone the Arms Deal saga to Wednesday 6 May after the former president’s attorney, Advocate Dan Mantsha, submitted a medical certificate claiming Zuma was too sick to make an appearance.
The contents of the medical certificate, signed by a Dr ZK Motene from a military hospital in Pretoria, have been the subject of scrutiny and both the prosecutors and the defence have been tasked with verifying the certificate’s claims.
A warrant of arrest has been issued to Zuma. However, the court made it clear thatthe warrant was stayed, pending his appearance on 6 May.
DA’s Natasha Mazzone thought JZ was ‘too sick’
The Democratic Alliance (DA), bursting with emotion, reacted to the inaccurate news of Zuma attending SONA.
Chief whip of the official opposition, Natasha Mazzone, said she thought Zuma was too sick to attend his trial at the Pietermaritzburg division of the KwaZulu-Natal High Court and too sick to attend the Zondo Commission, however, he is seemingly “fit as a fiddle to travel all the way to Cape Town to attend the pomp and pageantry that is SONA”.
Not having received the “memo”, Mazzone let out a rant, which she now has to swallow.
“To add insult to injury, Mr Zuma’s ‘doctor’ reportedly booked him off until April. It would seem that the only illness that Mr Zuma is suffering from is an inability to appear before court and facing justice for the corruption charges that he faces,” she said.
“Quite frankly, if Mr Zuma is not too ill to attend SONA in Cape Town, then he certainly is not too ill to attend his court hearing in Pietermaritzburg. Furthermore, having Mr Zuma at SONA, in a place known to us all, would certainly make it much easier for the clerk of the court to issue his warrant of arrest,” she added.
That ought to be a bitter pill to swallow since Zuma will not be in attendance. If Zuma did show up at SONA, it would have been the first time he put his foot inside Parliament since he was forced out of his presidency between late 2017 and early 2018…looks like he’s not ready yet.