News24 Wire
Wire Service
2 minute read
2 Mar 2020
4:33 pm

Zuma could be too unwell to attend KZN Sopa

News24 Wire

Carl Niehaus said he was not aware that Zuma had accepted the invitation, and everything was dependent on the former president's health.

South Africa's embattled former president Jacob Zuma Picture: MICHELE SPATARI / POOL / AFP)

Former president Jacob Zuma’s attendance at the State of the Province address (Sopa) in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal this week is in doubt, his close allies have said.

“From the time he arrived in the country, it’s clear that he is definitely not well. We were supposed to have meetings welcoming him, but we had to reschedule them because he cannot travel too much,” the Zuma supporters’ group organiser Bishop Vusi Dube told News24 on Monday.

Zuma has been invited to the Sopa, which will be preceded by the legislature opening on Tuesday. Premier Sihle Zikalala will deliver his address on Wednesday in Pietermaritzburg.

KZN legislature speaker Nontembeko Boyce last week announced that Zuma had been invited to the two-day event.

Dube shone some light on the ill Zuma’s attendance, saying it was doubtful.

“I was supposed to have him at my church yesterday to pray for him, but we decided him going up and down was not the best thing for his health. I doubt he will be coming to Sopa. He could come on one day, but we cannot be sure. We just cannot tell.”

He said those around Zuma were trying to keep him as rested as possible.

“Health wise, we are trying not to put more pressure on him and are trying to give him more time to relax.”

Dube said that supporters were still rallying behind Zuma despite his health concerns.

“People on the ground are very loyal and are preparing for May 6, when Msholozi returns to court,” he said, referring to Zuma’s corruption trial in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg.

Carl Niehaus, a long-time friend and ally of Zuma, told News24 he was not aware that the former head of state had even accepted the invitation from the provincial government.

“I am not aware if he has accepted the invitation. We have to understand everything is dependent on his health. That is something we have to leave in the hands of president Zuma himself.”

Niehaus said in the past Zuma always attended the KZN Sopa.

“It is not a new thing for him to attend. As far as I can see it from where I am, I am sure it is dependent on his health building up to these events.”

Spokesperson in the premier’s office Lennox Mabaso said he could not say if Zuma had confirmed his attendance.

“I cannot say anything on anybody’s attendance.”

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