In a dramatic twist, the South African
Parliament has confirmed that former president Jacob Zuma will be attending his successor President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address on Thursday.
— Parliament of RSA (@ParliamentofRSA) February 12, 2020
In a surprise move the day before SONA, both Parliament and the South African government’s official Twitter pages confirmed that Ramaphosa’s predecessor would be in attendance when the speech begins at 19:00.
“Former President Jacob Zuma will be attending #SONA2020 #GrowSA,” the two tweets confirmed.
Former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe also confirmed their attendance, Parliament confirmed.
Zuma did not attend any of Ramaphosa’s previous three SONAs.
The former president’s health status is also unclear at this point, given the furore around his absence from court for his corruption trial last week. Ill health was cited.
Zuma has until his next court appearance in May to explain to the court why he could not make his scheduled appearance last week, and to expand on the nature of his illness, pending a stayed arrest warrant.
According to Parliament, the budget for SONA 2020 is considerably less than previous years, at R2.1m.
Acting Parliament secretary Baby Tyawa said last week she expected the cost would be less than that figure.
Like previous years, there will also be an imbongi Masingita Shibambu, who will recite a poem as the presidential procession enters the National Assembly chamber.
Proceedings are set to begin at 19:00.
— South African Government (@GovernmentZA) February 12, 2020