That’s because he has decided not to attend the historic event at Westminster Abbey, even though the date was changed to suit his diary.
The original date of February 11 would have coincided with the 24th anniversary of Mandela’s release from prison but it may also have affected Zuma’s preparations for his State of the Nation address on February 13. Last Friday the South African government announced that Zuma would be in the UK from March 2-4 on a working visit, which would include attending the Mandela memorial.
Of course it is mischievous to suggest Zuma skipped the appointment so he could avoid a repeat of the booing which much of the world witnessed at the service for Mandela at the FNB Stadium in December last year. However, the no-show will do little to redeem Zuma’s image.
He was also absent from this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos. In fact he seems to be making a habit of not showing up. Earlier this month the ANC in Soweto apologised, saying Zuma could not participate in their door-to-door campaign during the voter registration weekend as promised because he had another engagement.
His spokesperson, Mac Maharaj, said at the time that Zuma was resting at Nkandla. Yet he was photographed at the birthday party of an ANC benefactor. This week Maharaj said Zuma’s diary is always subject to change and, “this is a very, very busy period”.
Busy indeed but the pattern developing suggests that Maharaj will need to become more imaginative with his spinning.
Someone must explain why there are so many Zuma no-shows.