Zuma being treated abroad, say lawyers about Sona debacle
Parliament initially confirmed the former president said he was too ill to attend his trial or the Zondo commission, but that he would be at the state of the nation address
Former president Jacob Zuma’s attorneys are adamant that he will not be attending the state of the nation address (Sona) on Thursday evening, as he is still receiving medical treatment abroad.
This was after parliament “erroneously” tweeted on Wednesday that he would attend President Cyril Ramaphosa’s fourth Sona. Parliament had to later walk back the tweet it had sent from its verified Twitter account.
“We do not know how and where parliament obtained this incorrect information,” Zuma’s lawyer Lugisani Daniel Mantsha said in a statement. “Our instructions remain that president Zuma is currently receiving medical treatment in a foreign country, and will therefore, not be attending the Sona.”
Zuma had 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 the Sona, it was announced on the Twitter account.
As South Africa prepares itself for Cyril Ramaphosa's state of the nation address (Sona), we take a look at South Africa's four prominent presidents and what they achieved. Through statistics, we compare each democratically elected president's promises to the subsequent realities.
Zuma’s attendance is controversial as a warrant of arrest was issued by the high court when 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 Zuma’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.
Zuma 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.
Zuma could also not appear at the commission of inquiry chaired by deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo in January as a result of being ill.
Update: February 12 2020
This story has been updated to reflect that parliament has retracted its announcement that Zuma will attend Sona, and that the former president’s lawyers have said he is still receiving medical treatment abroad.