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FORMER president Nelson Mandela will attend President Jacob Zuma's first State of the Nation address next week, if his health permits, Speaker Max Sisulu said yesterday
"Former president Mandela has indicated that he wanted to attend, but, as we all know, he is frail," Sisulu told a media briefing at Parliament.
Mandela, who turns 91 this winter, was transported in a golf cart when he attended Zuma's inauguration last month.
In his address, Zuma is expected to outline his government's five-year plan - which was discussed during the four-day Lekgotla he held with his cabinet since Monday.
Zuma's government faces major challenges compounded by this week's announcement that the country is in recession for the first time in 17 years.
The Treasury announced on Tuesday that the country's gross domestic product has dropped by 6,4percent in the first quarter of 2009 - GDP is the total expenditure for all goods and services produced in a country at a given period.
This has led to predictions that more jobs would be lost in an economy that has already shed more than 200000 jobs in the first quarter of 2009.
This has raised concerns about whether Zuma's government would deliver on the promises his party made in its election manifesto.
Already there are constraints in terms of access to funds that could be used to invest in projects that could boost the South African economy.
These include the fact that with the recession there will be very little domestic saving or investment such as reducing unemployment and poverty alleviation.
Sisulu said former president Thabo Mbeki, who was recalled from his post last year, has been invited to Parliament for Zuma's address on Wednesday, but has not yet responded.
South Africa's last white president, FW de KIerk, has declined, as he will be in Greece at the time, Sisulu said.
Former deputy presidents Baleka Mbete and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka are set to attend the speech, which will take place with the usual pomp and ceremony reserved for such occasions.
Zuma will be greeted with a 21-gun salute, a fly-over by the air-force, and a national salute by the ceremonial guard of the defence force.
Soldiers will line the streets of Cape Town along his route to the legislature and some 250 school children will form a special guard of honour for the president.