South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma reportedly cancelled a scheduled trip to the UK, after apparently being snubbed by Prime Minister David Cameron.
Zuma was expected to speak at the third annual innovaBRICS conference, however he withdrew his attendance after Cameron declined to meet with him, suggesting that he instead meet with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond.
Officials say that the president “wanted to meet with Cameron”.
Despite urgent attempts to save the visit, Zuma, who was due in London on Monday refused to reconsider, despite being a keynote speaker at the conference which focuses on ‘innovation in emerging markets’.
“His Excellency President Jacob Zuma will no longer attend the 3rd Annual innovaBRICS Conference in London, United Kingdom which takes place on 27 October 2014,” a statement issued by Zuma read. “The country and the president will be represented by four ministers. The delegation will be led by the Minister in the Presidency, Dr Jeff Radebe, and comprises Dr Rob Davies, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Nhlanhla Nene, the Minister of Finance, and Ms Faith Muthambi, the Minister of Communications.”
The conference which has been taking place annually since 2012, often features key leaders and business people from around the world, offering their thoughts on the world’s emerging markets.
“South Africa’s participation in the conference will be within the context of promoting the National Development Plan and promoting the country as a prime business destination,” the president added.
The ministers will engage with UK business leaders and opinion makers in various forums during the visit,”
Relations between Zuma and Cameron have been somewhat rocky over the past few years, catalysed by the UK government making it more difficult for South Africans to obtain Visas to the UK, Zuma’s refusal to attend a memorial service for Nelson Mandela and the UK and USA’s invasion of Libya which he strongly opposed.