PARLIAMENT, Parliament on Wednesday afternoon retracted an earlier statement that former president Jacob Zuma would attend the state of the nation address, after it drew a wealth of fresh commentary on the sick note he submitted to the Pietermaritzburg High Court last week.

Parliament described a tweet confirming he would attend the event as “premature”.

The Jacob Zuma Foundation issued a short statement after parliament’s initial release saying Zuma would not be attending the event.

The official opposition Democratic Alliance had responded to news of his attendance earlier in the day by saying if the former president was well enough to attend parliament, he was well enough to appear in the court preparing for his corruption trial.

DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone pointed out that the medical certificate Zuma’s lawyers presented to the Pietermaritzburg High Court – signed by a military doctor – on February 4, had reportedly declared him unfit until April.

“Mr Zuma was too sick to attend his trial at the Pietermaritzburg division of the KwaZulu-Natal High Court and too sick to attend the Zondo Commission yet now he is seemingly fit as a fiddle to travel all the way to Cape Town to attend the pomp and pageantry that is SONA,” Mazzone said.

“Quite frankly, if Mr Zuma is not too ill to attend SONA in Cape Town, then he certainly is not too ill to attend his court hearing in Pietermaritzburg.”

Judge Dhaya Pillay raised questions about the one-page certificate and issued a warrant for Zuma’s arrest due to his non-appearance. The warrant was stayed and will only be executed if he again fails to appear in court on May 6, the next scheduled date in pre-trial proceedings ahead of his corruption trial.

The sick note has been the subject of much reporting and speculation.

This week, the Health Professions Council of South Africa said it failed to meet standards of ethical conduct on three counts.

Zuma’s lawyers told the court the nature of his illness was confidential and a matter of “national security”.

The former president faces fraud and corruption charges stemming from the multi-billion rand arms deal the government signed in the late 1990s.

Source: African News Agency