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Tue Jun 28 07:59:46 SAST 2016

Zuma’s office denies ‘no show’ at World Economic Forum Africa panel

TMG Digital | 21 January, 2016 14:26
President Jacob Zuma and his wife Mrs Bongi Zuma arrive at Zurich International airport to attend the 2016 World Economic Forum.
Image by: GCIS

President Jacob Zuma met with Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Löfven in Davos‚ Switzerland‚ on the margins of the World Economic Forum meeting on Thursday morning.

The presidency statement was issued after South Africa’s leader was accused of being a “no show” at the WEF Africa Panel session‚ also this morning.

The editor and publisher of Biznews.com‚ Alec Hogg‚ took to Twitter to say: “‏Zuma has bailed on the Africa Panel - no Pravin either. Defeats the purpose of coming to #WEF16 or what?”

The latter referred to Finance Minster Pravin Gordhan‚ whom the Presidency had listed as “the lead minister” of the seven-strong Cabinet team sent to Davos in a statement on Wednesday.

Presidency spokesman Bongani Majola said the event organisers had been informed prior to today’s session.

“It's incorrect to say President Zuma did not turn up for the CNBC Panel on Africa in Davos. The Presidency informed the organisers last week already that President Zuma was unavailable for the CNBC panel they knew before we left South Africa due to scheduling changes. We indicated early his non-availability. We also indicated the availability of the Minister of Finance Mr Pravin Gordhan for the slot. Our advance team in Davos also emphasised the message to the organising team last week‚” he said.

In a separate statement‚ the presidency said Zuma and Löfven had “discussed the warm and strong bilateral relations between the two countries which date back to the period of the struggle against apartheid when Sweden supported the oppressed in South Africa to gain freedom and democracy”.

“The two leaders discussed the need to further strengthen South Africa-Sweden bilateral relations‚ which are structured through a Bi-National Commission (BNC) that is chaired by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and the Prime Minister. President Zuma and Prime Minister Löfven discussed the need for further cooperation in the economic and social development areas‚ with special emphasis on education and skills development.

“The two leaders also discussed the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in September 2015. Prime Minister Löfven has invited President Zuma to join an informal group of world leaders from different regions to support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the highest political level.”

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