Parliament regrets ‘error’ of prematurely confirming Zuma’s attendance of Sona

Parliament regrets ‘error’ of prematurely confirming Zuma’s attendance of Sona

Day 2 of former president Jacob Zuma's testimony at the State Capture Commission in Parktown, 16 July 2019. Picture Neil McCartney

Parliament says an accurate update will be given later in the day.

By Wednesday afternoon it was unclear whether former president Jacob Zuma would attend his successor’s state of the nation address (Sona) after parliament announced on social media that it had “erroneously” included him in a list of confirmed attendees.

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,” a follow-up tweet reads.

Earlier in the day, Parliament confirmed that Zuma would be attending his first Sona as delivered by President Cyril Ramaphosa since resigning as president.

Zuma’s lawyers claimed in court earlier this month that he was seriously ill and receiving treatment in Cuba. As a result, he missed his first appearance of the year for his arms deal corruption trial.

It’s unclear whether Zuma has made a recovery from a condition relating to his belief that he was poisoned.

The warrant of arrest was stayed until May 6, when the matter is set to resume. The court accepted that Zuma “may well be ill”, but further evidence on his condition was required. 

The NPA argued it never received a response from Zuma’s legal team after asking for more specifics about his illness. It also wanted access to his medical records to validate his illness claims.

State Prosecutor Billy Downer said it was disappointing that Zuma was not in court for unclear medical reasons.

Zuma’s supporters have mobilised again in favour of Zuma in an attempt to once again discredit the motives of those trying to prosecute him for his alleged involvement with French arms company Thales.

He faces one count of racketeering, 12 of fraud, four of corruption and one of money laundering.

The EFF, which in the past repeatedly disrupted Parliament due to their opposition to Zuma’s presidency, have threatened to disrupt the 2020 Sona.

They want to stop the president from speaking tomorrow because he has allegedly protected Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan.

In July, EFF MPs were thrown out of parliament after they accosted Gordhan on the podium, preventing him from delivering his department’s budget speech.

(Edited by Charles Cilliers)

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