Correctional Services said that “matters are under control” at Johannesburg’s Sun City Prison on Wed.
THE State of the Nation Address comes at a very inconvenient time for President Jacob Zuma. He has spent the last week and a half "resting" and pulling out of various engagements.
Last week he pulled out of an important meeting with the Broad-Based-Black Economic Empowerment Council.
Even his appearance at a Boland gathering earlier this week was stage managed to spare him the pain and torture of facing the world after news of his relationship with Irvin Khoza's daughter made headlines. Instead of the planned door-to-door walkabout, the president merely addressed ANC delegates and avoided the spotlight.
He also failed to arrive at a rally planned to commemorate the release of Nelson Mandela 20 years ago. Yesterday, the president was scheduled to address thousands of people who had been waiting patiently at the Drakenstein Correctional Facility, where our icon Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela spent the last few years of his incarceration.
We will be provided with all manner of explanations about the president's failure to pitch and some will go as far as claiming he was never scheduled to speak in the first place.
The media will be chastised for peddling wrong information. Imperfect as journalists are, it has become a convenient cop-out to blame them when the truth starts to hurt.
A statement issued by the ANC said Zuma was to address the crowd at the prison from 12.30pm to 1.30pm yesterday.
Following this sequence of no-shows, I believe Zuma is hiding because he is ashamed to face the nation. I also believe that if he could, Zuma would have avoided the State of the Nation Address.
Unfortunately, this year's address coincided with a momentous occasion that couldn't be put aside to accommodate his "need" to "rest".
My interpretation of Zuma's ducking and going under is that, in his heart, he knows that he has let South Africans down. Despite his apology, the storm rages on.
You would have thought that after apologising he would be brave enough to show his face and fulfill his commitments. But he is still running because he knows that his apology is too little, too late.
The reason this apology has not really found fertile ground in many quarters is not because South Africans are unforgiving and judgmental, but it is because the people of this country are smart enough to know that his expression of regret was issued after much defiance.
It was the ANC and the Office of the President who blamed the media and made a preposterous argument that Zuma's private life is nobody's business. The Presidency went as far as threatening legal action.
Thank goodness they came to their senses, and realised that their position is indefensible because Zuma's position means that he is the face and voice of this country, and his management of his personal life is a reflection of the kind of leader he is.
Obviously, Zuma must take responsibility for his own behaviour but the reason a president needs advisers is so that they can guide him when his public image is in tatters.
It helps when the advisers are smarter than the president because they will have the foresight to prepare for every possible outcome of a scandal.
Instead of closing ranks and issuing brainless statements a smart aide will not put his head in the sand and hope that the matter will die down. His advisers have done the greatest damage to the president.
They themselves believed that all they had to do was lash out at the media and display a congenital case of arrogance.
If this apology had been part of the first statement from Luthuli House and the Office of the President, then I doubt that Zuma would still be avoiding the public like the plague.