Playing article in audio
Lawyers for South Africa’s former President Jacob Zuma have dismissed reports that he will be in parliament on Thursday for his successor Cyril Ramaphosa’s annual state of the nation address, saying is still receiving medical treatment abroad.
A tweet posted earlier on the official Twitter account of parliament said Mr Zuma would attend the event, along with his two predecessors – Kgalema Motlanthe and Thabo Mbeki.
— Parliament of RSA (@ParliamentofRSA) February 12, 2020
The tweet – which parliament later retracted – caused a stir because Mr Zuma had failed to appear in court on corruption charges last week, with his lawyer producing a sick note to explain his absence.
However, the judge questioned the credibility of the note and issued an arrest warrant, to be executed if Mr Zuma failed to appear in court during his next appearance in May.
In a statement, the law firm representing Mr Zuma said parliament had put out “incorrect information”.
“Our instructions remain that Mr Zuma is currently receiving treatment in a foreign country,” it added, without naming the country.
A South African journalist has tweeted the statement:
Fmr President Jacob Zuma’s lawyers deny that he will be attending SONA.
“We do not know how and where Parliament obtained this incorrect information.
“Our instructions remain that President Zuma is currently receiving medical treatment in a foreign country”
— Karyn Maughan (@karynmaughan) February 12, 2020
A senior official from the governing African National Congress (ANC) was earlier quoted by the national broadcaster SABC as saying Mr Zuma was sick and recovering at home.
Parliament said its tweet on Mr Zuma’s attendance was “premature”, and it regretted the error.
Mr Zuma has been charged with corruption over a multi-million dollar arms negotiated about 20 years ago.
He denies any wrongdoing and says the charges are political.