South Africa President Jacob Zuma with his South Sudan counterpart Salva Kir Mayardit

South Sudan’s President, Salva Kiir is on a visit to South Africa, amid reports of his deteriorating health situation.

But the Minister for the Presidency, Mayiik Ayii Deng, said President Kiir was invited to South African by his counterpart, Jacob Zuma.

It was not possible to establish whether Mr Kiir was in South Africa as part of the peace negotiations of his troubled country, but his main rival Riek Machar Teng has been exiled in the southern Africa country since October this year.

“You know that South Africa is one of the countries which stood with our people during the war of liberation struggle and now it is playing another very important role in the peace process,” Deng said.

However, despite the minister’s explanations, some government officials claimed President Kiir is in South Africa for medical reasons.

“The president will off course use the opportunity to go for routine checks. He was due for checks in October but he did not go because of other commitments”, a presidential source said on Tuesday.

The official, who asked not to be identified, downplayed the severity of the sickness, further saying it was just ‘a normal check for fitness’.

Mr Kiir’s visit to South Africa came just hours after that of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who is one of the key players in the South Sudan peace process.