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Zuma didn’t decline Sona invite – he just didn’t RSVP

16 February 2018 - 16:45 By Khulekani Magubane
Jacob Zuma. File Photo.
Jacob Zuma. File Photo.

Parliament says former president Jacob Zuma did not decline an invitation to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s first state of the nation address (Sona) - he just did not formally responded to the invitation.

With Zuma well and truly away from the levers of government power and Parliament preparing for Ramaphosa’s first official appearance for the address‚ speculation was rife that Zuma would skip the occasion.

Zuma resigned as president on Wednesday night after the African National Congress recalled him on Tuesday. With ANC gatherings in his support reported around KwaZulu-Natal‚ there was speculation that he would be in his home province and not in Cape Town.

Parliamentary spokesman Moloto Mothapo said Zuma’s lack of response did not mean he would not attend Sona on Friday night.

“It would be difficult to say whether he will confirm. You will be appreciating that he confirmed his resignation yesterday [Wednesday]. Unlike other former heads of state we invited well in advance‚ he only received his invitation yesterday‚” he said.

Mothapo said former president Thabo Mbeki had confirmed that he would attend Sona but former president Kgalema Motlanthe had not yet responded to the invitation.

He added that journalists would be free to report on the event without the interference that marked Sona in the latter years of the Zuma presidency.

Sona was to have been held on Thursday February 8, but it was postponed until the ANC had dealt with the recall of Zuma.

Mothapo said the postponement could push the cost of the event beyond the original budget but details were not immediately available.