JZ misses investment boat
President Jacob Zuma's decision to pull out of the InnovaBrics conference in the UK is a missed opportunity to punt South Africa as an investment destination.
Zuma was due to deliver the keynote address at the conference, beginning today in London, but his decision to to honour the invitation because UK Prime Minister David Cameron could not meet him has given rise to suggestions of a diplomatic row between South Africa and Britain.
Political economist Moeletsi Mbeki said: "Because of the perceived instability of South Africa's economic policies, perhaps the president would have been the ideal person to assure potential investors that we are a viable investment destination. Whether investors would want to hear that from the president or his ministers remains to be seen, but this has to go down as a missed opportunity on the part of President Zuma.".
Minister in The Presidency Jeff Radebe will attend the conference in Zuma's absence, along with Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies, Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene and Communications Minister Faith Muthambi.
There was a cooling of relations between South Africa and the UK after Zuma snubbed a memorial service in London for Nelson Mandela.
Presidency spokesman Mac Maharaj has downplayed suggestions of a diplomatic row between South Africa and Britain after Zuma abruptly cancelled his trip to the UK, reportedly because Cameron would not meet him.
He was instead scheduled to meet Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond but this substitution was apparently rejected by Zuma.
This has led to speculation that relations between the two countries have become strained but Maharaj insisted that diplomatic "relations have never been better".
He said Zuma's visit was not a state engagement and that there was no expectation that the president would meet Cameron.
Maharaj said "common courtesy" was the reason Zuma had told the British government of his visit.
He said businessmen in the UK did not need Cameron's "permission" to invest in South Africa.