Former president Jacob Zuma is sick and has had to be flown to a secret Cuban hospital on suspected poisoning.
Sunday World can reveal that the former statesman was not well and had to be taken to the North American country, which has close historical links with South Africa.
A source close to Zuma said he had gone to Cuba for treatment related to the 2014 poisoning plot after developing health complications.
It is believed he needed treatment outside the country because he either did not trust South African doctors or believed there was insufficient expertise to deal with poisoning.
A second source claimed that Zuma showed early signs of forgetfulness – a claim dismissed by a third source who said this might be a plan not to answer questions in his upcoming fraud and corruption trial.
An ANC national executive committee member also confirmed that Zuma was in Cuba seeking medical attention.
“Yes, Zuma was in Cuba. They were suspecting poisoning,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to speak on the matter.
Zuma’s hospitalisation in Cuba comes in the wake of the National Prosecuting Authority declining to prosecute anyone for his alleged poisoning in 2014, which he reportedly previously received treatment for in Russia.
In 2015, Sunday Times reported that Zuma’s wife, Nompumelelo Ntuli-Zuma, was banned from his Nkandla home on claims that she was behind the poisoning plot.
Zuma has become the second high-ranking ANC figure in recent time to be flown out of the country to receive medical attention in connection with
Last October, Deputy President David Mabuza flew to Russia for a “routine medical check-up” that later transpired was related to poisoning.
Another source said the resurgence of Zuma’s health complications comes in the wake of mounting legal and financial woes.
Last week, Zuma lost with costs – his bid in the Pietermaritzburg High Court for leave to appeal against the refusal to grant him a permanent stay of prosecution over corruption charges.
It also emerged in September that Zuma may lose his Nkandla home after VBS Mutual Bank’s liquidators applied to court to force him to pay the R7.8-million loan he received.
Another source close to Zuma said: “It is sad what he is going through. He is in Cuba.
The decision of the court in Pietermaritzburg took a toll on uBaba [Zuma]. He is even developing Alzheimer’s [disease].”
Zuma was criticised, especially on social media, when he told deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo at the state capture inquiry that he has no recollection of many events, leading to suspicion that he was avoiding giving truthful but incriminating answers.
He said he could not “recollect” seeing former ANC MP Vytjie Mentor at the Guptas’ Saxonwold compound in 2010.
Mentor had claimed that Zuma walked her to the car that took her back to the airport after a meeting with the Guptas.
Zuma’s spokesperson Vukile Mathabela asked to be sent questions but had not replied by the time of going to press.
By George Matlala and Ngwako Malatji