President Jacob Zuma has failed to show up at the launch the national 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children, where he was scheduled to be a keynote speaker.
In a statement by the Government Communication Information System (GCIS), issued shortly after the event began at Nelson Mandela University’s Missionvale campus, it was announced that Zuma would be represented by Minister of Women Susan Shabangu.
No reason was given for Zuma’s absence.
The event is also being attended by leaders including the provincial premier Phumulo Masualle, though the auditorium was about a quarter full by 10.45am.
Meanwhile, mayoral chief of staff, Kristoff Adelbert, said it was “unusual” that the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality has been excluded from the national event.
Adelbert said the municipality took social development in the Bay very seriously.
“While local government’s direct responsibility is limited in this relevant mandate, the municipality has already gone above and beyond to assist and encourage the organisations that protect our women and children in the city,” he said.
“It is thus unusual that both the Provincial and National Governments seem to have excluded the Metro from the 16 Days of Activism proceedings.”
Adelbert said the municipality would remain committed to supporting vulnearable communities on a year-long basis – “regardless of this apparent exclusion” – and not be restricted to 16 days of activism.
“There is no place for politics in our battle against women and child abuse. The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality continues to put women and children first, by encouraging unity in action and promoting behavioural change,” he said.
“Without women and children, mankind will cease to exist, we must all do more to stop the scourge of abuse and violence against them.”