Former president Jacob Zuma has opted not to attend this year’s state of the nation address (SONA), the second one since he resigned from office in February 2018.
The event, which marks the opening of Parliament, and in this election year the closing of the fifth Parliament, will take place on Thursday, 7 February 2019.
During a state of readiness address by the presiding officers on Thursday, 31 January 2019, National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete revealed that former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe had confirmed that they would be in attendance.
When asked whether or not this meant that Zuma would not be attending, chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Thandi Modise, said: “We automatically invite all former heads of state and former presiding officers.
“If we indicate that he is not coming, it might be because he has not accepted our invitation. But we do not think there is anything untoward about that.”
In 2018, the state of the nation address, in an unprecedented move, was postponed as the ruling African National Congress (ANC) worked behind the scenes to persuade Zuma to resign as president of the country or face an ANC-sponsored motion of no confidence in Parliament.
Within the space of a week after the postponement, Zuma resigned, and Ramaphosa was sworn-in as the country’s new leader to subsequently deliver his first SONA.
Zuma has not publicly commented on the issue.