Former President Jacob Zuma’s attorney Dan Mantsha has said the former President will not attend Thursday’s State of the Nation Address (SONA).
Earlier on Wednesday, Parliament issued a tweet confirming that Zuma will attend, but backtracked on it just four hours later.
In a subsequent tweet, it said the confirmation was “premature” and had been issued “erroneously.” It therefore regretted the error.
Zuma receiving treatment ‘in a foreign country’
Mantsha has now issued a media statement confirming that the ex-President will indeed not attend SONA.
He wrote, “As President Zuma’s attorneys on record, we have noted the statement attributed to the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa, in which it is claimed that President Zuma will attend the South African State of the Nation Address (“SONA”) taking place on the 13th of February, 2020.
“We do not know how and where Parliament received this incorrect information.
“Our instructions remain that Zuma is currently receiving medical treatment in a foreign country and will therefore not be attending the SONA.”
Carl Niehaus, the spokesperson of uMkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA), also questioned Parliament’s confirmation at a press conference in Johannesburg on Wednesday.
He was part of a Gauteng-based group calling itself the Radical Economic Transformation Support Group for President Jacob Zuma and suggested that Parliament could have issued “fake news.”
Niehaus said, “At this state, there is absolutely no information from us, and especially from the lawyers of Msholozi [Zuma’s clan name], that he will attend.
“We fear that that announcement may be fake news in order to try and cast aspersions on whether Msholozi is really ill.”
Niehaus added that the group will organise a “mass welcoming” of Zuma at OR Tambo International Airport when he returns from his treatment.
The Jacob Zuma Foundation also issued a media statement on Wednesday saying it had informed the Director-General in the Presidency that Zuma won’t attend SONA “due to his health condition.”
Zuma’s health has been the subject of intense speculation after he missed his corruption trial on 4 February at the Pietermaritzburg high court.
The court subsequently issued a warrant of arrest for him, stayed until 6 May, sparking anger among his supporters.