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Zuma to Miss Mugabe Inauguration as Dignitaries Arrive for Event

President Jacob Zuma
South African president and former Southern African Development Community appointed mediator in Zimbabwe, Jacob Zuma, will miss President Robert Mugabe’s inauguration at the National Sports Stadium on Thursday, preferring to officiate at an annual congress of the Southern African Clothing and Textiles Union in his country.

Mr. Zuma’s spokesman, Mac Maharaj, told reporters that his boss will travel to Angola to meet President Jose Eduardo dos Santos after the Union’s meeting. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has also said he will boycott the ceremony protesting what he says was a rigged election.

But foreign affairs sources say foreign dignitaries who have already arrived in the country in time for the elaborate function, include former Tanzanian presidents Ali Hassan Mwinyi and Benjamin Mkapa, former Mozambican president Joachim Chissano and Swaziland Prime Minister Barnabas Benjamin.

China has also dispatched an envoy. Thursday has been declared a national holiday to allow Zimbabweans to take part in the inauguration.

It is the absence of Mr. Zuma that has surprised some political analysts. But South African government spokesman Clayson Monyale said there is nothing new in Mr. Zuma not attending another leader’s inauguration.

Zanu-PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo said plans are at an advanced stage for the ceremony.