Ubuntu Awards put on hold amid Zuma exit talks


File: President Jacob Zuma

CAPE TOWN - South African President Jacob Zuma will no longer officiate at the annual Ubuntu Awards ceremony at the Cape Town International Convention Centre this Saturday, an announcement on Thursday said.

The announcement by the Department of International Relations, which organises the annual event, said the postponement of the awards was done because it was associated with the State-of-the-Nation Address (Sona). Sona was postponed as talks between Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa, his deputy and successor as ruling party president, around the head of State&39;s future continue.

"The general public was informed by the Presidency and Parliament that the State of the Nation Address (Sona) scheduled for Thursday, 08 February 2018, had been postponed. Consequently, events traditionally hosted post the Sona have been affected, including the Ubuntu Awards 2018," said Dirco.

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On Thursday, the ruling African National Congress announced all party events that were to be addressed by Ramaphosa in the run-up to the anniversary of Nelson Mandela&39;s release from prison on Sunday would also be postponed due to "pressing commitments".

South Africans have been left waiting with bated breath on the future of head of State Zuma, who is widely expected to either step down or be forced out of office in coming days.

On a momentous day in national politics Tuesday, Parliament&39;s presiding officers took the unprecedented step of postponing the state-of-the-nation address which had been scheduled for Thursday evening, while the ruling African National Congress (ANC) unexpectedly cancelled a crucial meeting that was supposed to provide clarity on Zuma&39;s future.

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Zuma had been due to officiate at the annual Ubuntu Awards ceremony at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Saturday, while Ramaphosa - who will still deliver the main speech at the Nelson Mandela Centenary Launch in Cape Town on Sunday - cancelled all public engagements for Friday.

Ramaphosa had been due to interact with the public at Mitchell&39;s Plain train station, meet with the family of anti-apartheid leader Dullah Omar, as well as lay a wreath at the Trojan Horse site in Athlone, among other engagements, but these were all cancelled by the ANC on Thursday morning.

There have been rising calls for Zuma to step down and to not deliver Sona, both from within his own party and the opposition, who have in recent years disrupted the state of the nation address in protest at Zuma&39;s presence amid myriad scandals of corruption and state capture.