Thursday, January 21, 2016

'Toxic' president Jacob Zuma suddenly a no-show at CNBC Africa's 2016 World Economic Forum debate in Davos; creates awkward embarrassment.

A "toxic" president Jacob Zuma who became a no-show at CNBC Africa's (DStv 410) Davos debate at the 2016 World Economic Forum (WEF) in Switzerland left the ABN run business channel red-faced and scrambling behind-the-scenes to find a suitable replacement when another panelist threatened to pull out.

On Tuesday this week CNBC Africa told the media that president Jacob Zuma would be one of the panelists of a debate entitled "Africa's Next Challenge", moderated by CNBC Africa's Bronwyn Nielsen that will be broadcast live tomorrow (Thursday 21 January from 11:30).

CNBC Africa told the press that the panelists will include South African president Jacob ZumaHailemarain Desalegn (Ethoipia's prime minister), Akinwumi Adesina (African Development Bank president) and Hans Vestberg (Ericcson Sweden president and CEO).

CNBC Africa didn't send out any programming advisory or any publicity update of any changes saying that Jacob Zuma won't be part of the live debate.

Biznews is reporting that president Jacob Zuma withdrew late on Wednesday night, putting CNBC Africa in a flat spin after another panelist then threatened to withdrew as well.

The CNBC Africa event reportedly also had a large number of empty seats.

According to Alec Hogg's Biznews, when South Africa offered finance minister Pravin Gordhan as a replacement, Hailemarain Desalegn threatened to withdrew from the televised debate as well.

Although there's been nothing from CNBC Africa about president Jacob Zuma's absence after saying he would be a part of the debate, Rwanda's president Paul Kagame then appeared in the pace of president Jacob Zuma.

The local Graubunden Canton newspaper Tages Anzeiger on Tuesday published an critical article about president Jacob Zuma with a photo (pictured above) of him looking asleep in a chair saying "A toxic president".

The photo was not one taken at this year's 2016 World Economic Forum.

Very strange, given that CNBC Africa still on Tuesday said president Jacob Zuma would take part in the CNBC Africa WEF debate, is that the presidency today (Thursday) said it told CNBC Africa last week that Jacob Zuma wouldn't be attending CNBC Africa's debate.

"The presidency advance team in Davos also continuously informed the organisers that the president would not participate," said the president's office in a statement.

The presidency also trashed Biznews for the reporting saying in the statement that "we reject the spreading of lies by Alec Hogg, who seems determined to mislead the public about this matter".

Fascinatingly, Reuters reports that when Reuters asked spokesperson Bongani Majola why president Jacob Zuma was a no-show and suddenly not at the CNBC Africa WEF debate, Bongani Majola reacted by saying: "Are you sure about that?"