SOUTH African President Jacob Zuma will not attend President Robert Mugabe’s inauguration today, with his office saying he does not grace swearing-in ceremonies.
Instead, his deputy Kgalema Motlanthe and International Relations and Co-operation minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane will represent the South African President. This is likely to raise eyebrows, as Zimbabwe has been one of Zuma’s major foreign affairs concerns, as he was a facilitator to this country’s dialogue meant to solve a political crisis.
Zuma was expected to be one of close to 40 heads of State expected to witness the swearing in that was delayed by outgoing Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s court challenge.
South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Co-operation spokesperson Clayson Monyela confirmed that Zuma would not be in Harare today.
“The President of the Republic of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, is not travelling to Zimbabwe to attend the inauguration of President Mugabe,” he said in response to questions from the Southern Eye.
“Normally, President Zuma does not attend inauguration ceremonies. Therefore, South Africa will be represented by Kgalema Motlanthe and Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.
“Recently, there were similar events in Ghana and Iran and Zuma did not attend. So, it’s not unusual that he is not coming to Zimbabwe.”
Zuma was appointed by Sadc to be the point man on Zimbabwe and he oversaw the implementation of the Global Political Agreement. He congratulated Mugabe on his disputed re-election sparking an outcry within opposition parties in South Africa, mainly the Democratic Alliance.
Tsvangirai has indicated that he will boycott the swearing-in ceremony at the National Sports Stadium, protesting what he described as a sham election.
Today has been declared a public holiday, with each province provided with 10 buses to ferry people to attend the inauguration.
A cast of international and local musicians have been lined up to provide entertainment.