Parliament walks back Zuma Sona announcement

By CLAUDI MAILOVICH

Parliament has had to retract its announcement that former president Jacob Zuma will attend the state of the nation address (Sona), after it was “erroneously” announced on Twitter.

Spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said in a short statement that “the confirmation was premature; an accurate update will be given later today whether the former president is able to attend or not”.

Parliament’s verified account had earlier announced  Zuma would be one of the former presidents attending the event on Thursday evening.

Zuma has previously said he was too ill to attend his criminal trial or to give testimony at the commission of inquiry into state capture.

Former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe will also attend President Cyril Ramaphosa’s fourth Sona, it was also announced on the Twitter account.

Ramaphosa is set to address the nation on Thursday evening.

Zuma’s attendance is controversial as a warrant of arrest was issued by the high court after he did not appear for his corruption case last Tuesday.

The warrant was issued after the court had discussed an allegedly dubious sick note, and the judge ruled that the former president’s legal team had not done enough to show why he had not arrived.

The warrant was stayed, meaning it will not be enforced until May 6 when Zuma is supposed to appear in court for the resumption of his trial.

The former president stands accused of receiving bribes from his former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, in exchange for interventions and assistance in aid of Shaik’s business interests.

He could also not appear at the commission of inquiry chaired by deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo in January as a result of being ill.

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