Zuma will attend opening of KZN legislature, 'health permitting'
24 February 2020
Former president Jacob Zuma will attend the opening of the KwaZulu-Natal legislature if his health allows, Speaker Nontembeko Boyce said on Monday.
Speaking to a large media contingent at the Oceanic Hemisphere Hotel on Durban's North Beach, Boyce said they had already consulted most political parties regarding Zuma's possible attendance.
"He is a former president and he has been invited. This is in line with our own institutional arrangement of sharing information. We shared this information with all parties. We have received confirmation from the office of premier that former president Zuma, health allowing, will be attending."
Confirming Zuma's potential attendance, spokesperson Carl Niehaus said the former head of state's health took priority.
"I think it is correct for the officials to say, health permitting. This position is correct.
"We also know that, in the past, he often attended the opening of the KZN legislature. I am sure he would love to do that again."
Zuma arrived back in South Africa on Saturday after receiving treatment in Cuba.
While the nature of Zuma's illness has not been disclosed, he has been in and out of hospital for several months and has failed to attend court for his corruption case, News24 reported.
In 2018, News24 reported that opposition parties in the provincial legislature had staged a walkout after Zuma sat with officials shortly before the agriculture budget was to be debated.
The EFF, DA and the NFP refused to continue the sitting, arguing that Zuma should not sit in the legislature.
The former president allegedly turned up as a "guest" of agriculture and rural development MEC Themba Mthembu and sat in the wings of the chamber.
Boyce said the issue at the time was not that Zuma was on the legislature, but where he was seated.
"It was the issue of where he was sitting, not his attendance. We discussed this in meetings with parties last week. They believed he was sitting where members of the house should be sitting."
She said seating in the wings "are not demarcated in terms of the rules".
"Over the years you have seen people sit there and it has never been raised. It was only raised [when Zuma attended]."
Boyce, however, added that opposition parties had made it clear that they still had to be informed of a guest attending a legislature sitting.
"There is a rule that says that if someone comes into the house, the house must be informed. It refers to a minister or guest who you want to address the house. They will sit where members ordinarily sit."
Boyce added that there had been significant cost-cutting measures taken by the legislature this year.
"There will be a total of 2 400 guests over the two days. Previously, we had 2 800 per day. We have reduced our catering and transport costs, thanks to this reduction in guests."
Legislature secretary Nerusha Naidoo said that, while costs were yet to be given a rand value for the 2020 opening of legislature, it would be less than previous sittings.
"It was around R3.6m cost in 2018. This year it would have been much higher because of inflation, but we think it will be substantially lower because guests are cut down by more than half."
She did not give figures for the opening of the legislature in 2019.