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Pretoria - Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane will represent South Africa at the inauguration of Robert Mugabe as Zimbabwean president at the National Sports Stadium in Harare on Thursday.
Clayson Monyela, spokesman for the Department of International Relations and Co-operation, announced this on Twitter on Wednesday.
President Jacob Zuma’s spokesman Mac Maharaj said Zuma would not be at the inauguration as he would be attending the annual congress of the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers Union in Durban and then travelling to Angola to meet President Jose Eduardo dos Santos on Thursday.
Maharaj said Zuma’s programme including Thursday’s events was only announced last week.
The Herald, the state-owned daily in Harare which reflects Zanu-PF views, reported on Wednesday that the government had declared Thursday a public holiday.
It quoted deputy chief secretary to the president and cabinet Ray Ndlukula as saying that making Thursday a public holiday “will afford everybody an opportunity to come and celebrate this big occasion”.
And The Herald quoted acting Harare Metropolitan Provincial Governor Alfred Tome as saying “the whole world will stand still on that day”.
However the paper did not say which world leaders would be attend.
“On that day, the head of state and government will be inaugurated. I’m appealing to all people to come. We have been allocated 30 buses for Harare,” Tome said.
He urged Zimbabweans from across the political divide “to grace the grand occasion”.
But it was not clear if former prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the main Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) or Welshman Ncube, leader of the smaller MDC would attend.
On Tuesday the Constitutional Court confirmed Mugabe’s win. The announcement had been delayed because Tsvangirai had submitted a legal challenge of the result to the court, citing massive vote rigging.
However, on Friday, he withdrew his challenge.
Independent Foreign Service