DEPUTY South Africa President Kgalema Motlanthe will represent the regional economioc powerhouse at President Robert Mugabe’s inauguration on Thursday, the country’s international relations department said Wednesday.
“The inauguration follows the ruling by the Constitutional Court of Zimbabwe on 20 August 2013 that… Mugabe is the duly elected president of Zimbabwe,” the department said in a statement.
Motlanthe would be accompanied by International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mshabane.
“President Jacob Zuma was among the first heads of state … to congratulate President Mugabe on 3 August 2013 following the announcement of the results by the Zimbabwean Electoral Commission,” the department added.
“In his statement, President Jacob Zuma reiterated South Africa’s readiness to continue to partner with Zimbabwe in pursuit of mutually beneficial co-operation.”
The department did not explain why Zuma was not attending the event set for the National Sports Stadium in Harare but a statement on the SA Presidency website said Zuma would travel to Angola for a working visit on Friday.
The South African leader was expected to hold talks “relating to peace and stability in the region” with Angolan counterpart José Eduardo Dos Santos and Joseph Kabila of the DRC.
Meanwhile state media reported that several serving and former leaders arrived in Harare for the inauguration, among them Tanzania’s Jakaya Kikwete and predecessors Ali Hassan Mwinyi and Mr Benjamin Mkapa.
Also in Harare, was Swaziland Prime Minister Barnabas Sibusiso Dhlamini and former Mozambican President Joachim Chissano. Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea was also expected to attend the event.
A spokesperson for MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai told AFP said the outgoing prime minister would not attend the inauguration.
“Expecting Tsvangirai to attend the inauguration is like expecting a victim of robbery to attend a party hosted by the robber,” Luke Tamborinyoka said.
Thursday has been declared a public holiday to allow people to attend Mugabe’s swearing-in at the 60,000-seat giant sports stadium on the outskirts of Harare.
The ceremony was delayed after Tsvangirai challenged the election results in a petition to the country’s constitutional court.
But on Tuesday, the court cleared the way for the inauguration after ruling that the elections last month were “free, fair and credible”.
Tsvangirai condemned the election as “a farce” and “a massive fraud” and demanded a forensic audit of the election results.