Former president Jacob Zuma File photo: Dumisani Dube/ANA
Durban -  Former president Jacob Zuma was a no-show at the National Interfaith Council of South Africa's (Nicsa) Nation Building Prayer, this afternoon in Phoenix, due to a cleansing ritual for his late son Vusi taking place today in Johannesburg.

Zuma, alongside Minority Front leader Shameen Thakur-Rajbansi, were expected to join Nicsa leaders in the prayer aimed at fighting crime as well as entrenching and enhancing social cohesion and moral regeneration in the Black and Indian communities.

Nicsa provincial secretary Bishop Timothy Ngcobo said he had received a call from Zuma last night informing him that he would no longer be participating in the prayer as his family was holding a mandatory cleansing ritual following the burial of his 25-year-old son Vusi last weekend.

"The issue is with the cleansing ritual because he thought that the family would be cleansed yesterday (Friday) as per Zulu tradition that if you have lost a family member you must mourn for seven days.

"He was supposed to cleanse the family yesterday (Friday) but now apparently the leaders of the family said the seven days is finishing today so he couldn't make it, but he promised that he would be with us at our prayer in Chatsworth next Saturday," Ngcobo said.

He said that Zuma's absence had an adverse impact to Nicsa as organisers and people who were awaiting his arrival, however they could not blame Zuma for prioritising family commitments.

National Interfaith Council of South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal secretary Bishop Timothy Ngcobo explains the reason behind former president Jacob Zuma's absence at today's Nation Building Prayer in Phoenix, north of Durban, where he was an invited guest. Video: Quinton Mtyala

With the mercury dropping to 14 degrees and 60 percent chances of rain in Durban today the prayer has failed to attract a significant attendance. 
"The way we marketed this thing we were expecting a full house. Looking at the weather, it also contributed," said Ngcobo. 

Rajbansi has also not shown up at the prayer as she was battling with flu, said Ngcobo.

Political Bureau