Sun, 19 Jan 2020

It seems the ANC is just as surprised as most people by news reports that former president Jacob Zuma had taken ill and is undergoing treatment in Cuba.

The party's national spokesperson, Pule Mabe, told journalists on the sidelines of the last national executive committee (NEC) meeting of the year, taking place in Benoni on Sunday, the party had no knowledge of the news.

"Well, like yourselves, we've seen media reports that suggest the health of the former president of the ANC might be ailing. If that was to be true, we of course wish him well and a speedy recovery," said Mabe.

According to weekly newspaper Sunday World, Zuma was in Cuba seeking treatment for an illness linked to an alleged poison plot from 2014.

This despite the National Prosecuting Authority declining in September to investigate claims of him being poisoned, saying there was no evidence such an act had taken place.

The former ANC leader and South African head of state is also said to be struggling with memory loss.

Zuma also missed a scheduled appearance at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture in November, claiming he was sick.

It was also reported last month he was hospitalised for a week in November for an unknown ailment.

Zuma, who often attends the ANC's NEC meetings in his capacity as former leader, was not present.

He was also not present when the High Court in Pietermaritzburg dismissed his and French company Thales' bid for a permanent stay of prosecution in a corruption case relating to the arms deal.

Issues of national importance

While the ANC refused to give exact details on the NEC's agenda, Mabe said the state of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and happenings at local governments across the country would form part of the debates.

The NEC meets on the back of the national carrier SAA undergoing voluntary business rescue, Eskom struggling to keep the lights on, the ANC winning back control of the City of Johannesburg, while the Gauteng province has placed the City of Tshwane under partial administration as well as seeking legislation to tighten how coalitions run municipalities in the country.

"It's the political overview, already given by the president of the ANC ... looking at a number of topical issues of national and international interests, whether it's the state of our SOEs and our relations with other countries, whether it's in the region or beyond the region," said Mabe on Sunday.

He said the NEC's views on such matters would be communicated on Wednesday when the party shares its NEC outcomes.

Mabe added the NEC would also discuss how it managed coalitions.

"All of our members are looking at this gathering and want us to communicate the outcomes of this gathering with a level of certainty."

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