Zuma no show: Swapping panel discussions for Swedish socialist talk?

South African President Jacob Zuma is once again in the news for all the wrong reasons. Firstly he’s been described as “A Toxic President” by one of Switzerland’s biggest newspapers, shortly followed by a no-show on the annual CNBC Africa panel at the World Economic Forum. His choice of replacement, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan was not acceptable to Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. Hence Rwandan president Paul Kagame took his place, leaving South Africa out of the discussion completely. But why the sudden turnaround? The Presidency just released the below statement suggesting Zuma met with one of the last standing socialists, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven. If this was the reason, then one must surely question tactics. A closed door meeting with a socialist regime that’s seen its best days past in places like Argentina and Venezuela, or an opportunity to help rebuild the South African and African investment case on a live panel with your peers? Regardless of why, it’s no wonder the Ethiopians suggested otherwise. – Stuart Lowman

From the South African Presidency

President Jacob Zuma has met with Prime Minister Stefan Löfven of the Kingdom of Sweden today, 21 January 2016, in Davos, Switzerland, on the margins of the World Economic Forum meeting.

The two leaders discussed the warm and strong bilateral relations between the two countries which date back to the period of the struggle against apartheid when Sweden supported the oppressed in South Africa to gain freedom and democracy.

A person passes by a logo of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in the congress centre ahead of the Annual Meeting 2016 of the WEF in Davos, Switzerland, January 18, 2016. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich
A person passes by a logo of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in the congress centre ahead of the Annual Meeting 2016 of the WEF in Davos, Switzerland, January 18, 2016. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich

The two leaders discussed the need to further strengthen South Africa-Sweden bilateral relations, which are structured through a Bi-National Commission (BNC) that is chaired by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and the Prime Minister.

President Zuma and Prime Minister Löfven discussed the need for further cooperation in the economic and social development areas, with special emphasis on education and skills development.

The two leaders also discussed the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in September 2015.

Prime Minister Löfven has invited President Zuma to join an informal group of world leaders from different regions to support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the highest political level.

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