Several current and former heads of state and government, imminent persons, heads of delegation, heads of international organisations and the diplomatic corps are expected to attend the State Funeral of the late former President Nelson Mandela in Qunu in the Eastern Cape.
Madiba will be laid to rest on Sunday in a private ceremony only attended by 4 000 family members, Cabinet members and dignitaries. Madiba’s body is lying in state at the Union Buildings for the third and final day today.
International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said the South African government appreciated the continued support shown by the international community since his passing away over a week ago.
“It is comforting to have amongst us leaders and other dignitaries representing the international community during this time of bidding our final farewells to Madiba,” said the minister.
The list of the leaders and other dignitaries is as follows:
H.E Joyce Banda President Malawi
H.E Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete
Hon Dr E Ralph Everard Gonsalves
Prime Minister St Vincent & the Grenadines
Dr Hailemariam Dessalegn
Prime Minister Ethiopia
The Right Honourable Dr Denzil Douglas
Prime Minister St Kitts and Nevis
His Honour Dr Guy Scott
Vice President Zambia
H.E Mr Mohammad Shariatmadari
Vice President Iran
Commander and Army General Omar Hallesleven Acevedo
Vice President Nicaragua
His Majesty King Letsie III King Lesotho
HRH Prince Charles of Wales
Prince United Kingdom
Mr Jens Stoltenberg
Former Prime Minister Norway
Mr Lionel Jospin
Former Prime Minister France
Mr Alain Juppe
Former Prime Minister France
Mr Kenneth Kaunda
Former President Zambia
Mr Abubakar Atiku
Former Vice President Nigeria
Mr Ephraim Mganda Chiume
Foreign Minister Malawi
Mr Mohlabi Kenneth Tsekoa
Foreign Minister Lesotho
Hon Bernard K Membe Foreign Minister Tanzania
Mr Wilbur Simuusa
Foreign Minister Zambia
Rev Jessie Jackson
Eminent Person USA
Former First Lady Mrs Maria Nyerere
Eminent Person Tanzania
Ms Vicky N Swai, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM)
Eminent Person Tanzania
Mr Surafiel Mhreteab Abed
State Minister Ethiopia
Mr Getachew Reda Kahsay
State Minister Ethiopia
H.E Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma
Chairperson African Union Commission
Mr Roeland van der Geer Head of the EU in South Africa
President Jacob Zuma on Thursday informed Parliament that he had authorised the employment of 11 894 members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) for Madiba’s funeral.
The Presidency said the SANDF members will work in co-operation with the South African Police Service (SAPS) to maintain law and order during the State Funeral of the former President.
“The employment is for a period of fifteen (15) days commencing on 06 December to 20 December 2013,” the Presidency said in a statement on Friday.
Madiba’s body will be flown to the Eastern Cape on Saturday, ahead of the State Funeral on Sunday.
Workers have completed erecting the giant white marquee at Mandela’s family farm in Qunu where the official funeral of the late statesman will take place.
On Thursday, family spokesperson Bantu Holomisa said the rain did not stop service providers, who have been at the site since Sunday to ensure that the funeral venue is ready by Saturday.
“I can tell you now that the stage is complete and everything is ready for Sunday. At the moment, we are just awaiting for safety engineers to inspect the tent and issue a safety certificate.
“We are hoping that the weather can clear today or tomorrow but we are happy with the work on the ground.”
Workers, who are using a crane to put together the structure, were seen testing sound equipment and levelling the ground.
The marquee, which is expected to accommodate more than 4 000 dignitaries and guests, is overlooking the Mandela residence situated along the N2 road from Mthatha to East London.
A few metres away is a family graveyard where Mandela will be laid to rest. When the weather started to clear on Thursday afternoon, workers continued to work on the grave site.
Security is tight around the residence, with police and military personnel searching every vehicle that enters the funeral venue.
No journalists will be allowed to film funeral proceedings straight from the venue. Instead, a media centre situated at the Nelson Mandela Museum will be opened to journalists. The museum is about 500 meters from where the funeral proceedings will be taking place.
Parts of the N2 that run adjacent to the house remained cordoned off, and traffic was being diverted.
Even foreign journalists who had booked accommodation in the houses opposite the Mandela residence were being denied access to the houses. Some had to get letters from a local chief confirming their stay there. – SAnews.gov.za
President Jacob Zuma has thanked Cuba for its support as the country mourns the loss of former President Nelson Mandela.
Zuma today had a consultative meeting with Cuban President Raul Castro at his Mahlamba Ndlopfu residence in Pretoria.
“We’ve just had a consultation with the (Cuban) President… (He) has been able to brief me about what is happening in Cuba and Latin America in general…
“I thank the President and his delegation for coming to mourn with us… without Cuba as our old friend, the whole thing will not be complete.”
The President said Cuba played an important role in Africa, particular in Southern Africa, in the realisation of the liberation of its states.
Zuma also used the opportunity to brief the Cuban leader about developments in South Africa and the continent.
“We discussed the bilateral relations between our two countries, and we are very happy with how it is going.
“We are very happy with our engagement this morning. It has been absolutely positive and very helpful for us to brief each other about the situations in both our countries and the regions where we come from, as well as global matters.”
Speaking through a translator, Castro said: “The President said everything and I fully share what the President has just told you. I am very happy that our relations are continuing to develop. We are brothers and sisters.
“…Cuba is part of Africa and Africa is part of Cuba and the Caribbean.”
Castro is in the country to pay tribute to the late South African statesman, Nelson Mandela, who died at his Houghton home on December 5.
Madiba will be buried on Sunday, 15 December, at his home village of Qunu in the Eastern Cape. – SAnews.gov.za
The Mthatha Airport will be able to receive any flight landing there for the funeral service of former President Nelson Mandela this coming weekend, Eastern Cape Premier Noxolo Kiviet said on Thursday.
Some media had expressed doubt over the airport’s capacity to handle bigger aircrafts that will carry dignitaries attending the funeral in Qunu on Sunday.
But in an interview with SAnews in the Eastern Cape, Kiviet assured visitors that the airport, which has just been renovated, can accommodate any size of a Boeing but that the only challenge could be parking space.
Contingency plans had been made for some flights to drop off the dignitaries and fly to East London and Bisho where parking space will be provided. The airport usually receives two planes from Johannesburg daily, but traffic is expected to increase this week ahead of the state funeral.
“It will be a drop off for some that do not have space, there is no crisis as we had just renovated this airport and so it meets all the international safety standards,” Kiviet said.
Security has also been tightened and the army has effectively taken control of the airport. During a visit to the airport, SAnews spoke to different police officers and army officials, who said they were guarding the airport 24-hours a day. The airport was also accommodating flights only coming from Johannesburg.
“We want to ensure that nobody is compromised, all our dignitaries will be able to land safely and security around them is guaranteed.”
Heavy rains and mist over Mthatha made it impossible for several flights to land at the airport on Wednesday and flights were diverted to East London airport.
SAnews has learned that a plane carrying some members of the Mandela family, who were scheduled to arrive on Wednesday, had to be diverted to East London after the pilot was advised not to land in Mthatha.
With thousands of people said to be planning to travel to Qunu this weekend, Kiviet urged Eastern Cape people to rather watch the funeral on the 18 public viewing areas the government has set up across the province.
“We advise people not to even think of going to Qunu because it’s going to be difficult for them.”
Government in Pretoria this week also issued the same request calling on people to rather watch the funeral at home and on public viewing screens.
Kiviet said for Qunu residents, there will be three public viewing areas, while the other three will be set up in Mthatha.
As the big funeral day drew closer, people continued to pay their tributes to Mandela who died on 5 December.
Hundreds of Qunu residents braved the rainy weather to line the village streets on Thursday chanting songs praising their fallen hero.
Mandela grew up in Qunu after his parents relocated from the nearby Mvezo village. At the school where the former president attended as a young boy, several messages of love were on display while posters with Mandela’s face were seen hanging on fences and street poles and on the walls at some houses.
Qunu was very close to Madiba’s heart and no doubt he will be dearly missed here.
In his later years he spent most of his time at his home in the village and it became a tradition that whenever he was around there would be some kind of activity taking place at the family residence.
Nolusapho Gibisela, who lives a few meters away from Mandela’s house, recalled when Mandela invited children from the village to his home on Christmas day every year where children would be given gifts and had the opportunity to play with tata.
“This became a tradition in Qunu and whenever tata is around children will be called to go see him and no child will leave that house empty handed and that’s how our children got to know him.
“The whole village was saddened to learn of his passing but we were not shocked. He was an old man who had done his work on earth, he completed the task.” – SAnews.gov.za
The viewing of the late former Nelson Mandela’s mortal remains at the amphitheatre at the Union Buildings has been opened to the public.
The viewing of the struggle icon was opened a few minutes after midday.
Members of the public, who are not allowed to take photos of the casket, are now able to file past the body which is under constant vigil by the military’s national ceremonial guard.
The public will be able to view the body until 5.30 this afternoon after which it will then be taken back to 1 Military Hospital in a cortege.
The first group of members of the public to come in had been waiting patiently outside the pedestrian entrance of the Union Buildings in the scorching sun for several hours, most of them bringing their children along. A large number of them were dressed in their Nelson Mandela memorabilia.
The visibly excited crowd put their cellphones and cameras away and began queuing up to be scanned by security before they could proceed to the ampitheatre, which has been renamed the Nelson Mandela Amphitheatre.
Other members of the public are expected to be bussed in throughout the afternoon from various pick up points around Tshwane. The City of Tshwane has implemented a park and ride system.
Most members of the public will make use of the opportunity to view the body of their fallen hero for the last time on Thursday and Friday between 7am and 5pm.
The body will be flown to Madiba’s hometown Qunu in the Eastern Cape at the weekend. The State Funeral will take place on Sunday. – SAnews.gov.za
The Mandela family, Government ministers and several Heads of State and Government from different countries across the world have been filing past the body of late former President Nelson Mandela, who is lying in state at Nelson Mandela Amphitheatre, at the Union Buildings.
The Mandela family, including the elders, and several dignitaries, who were shuttled to the Union Buildings, arrived at the Union Buildings just before 10 am. They then lined up to pay homage to Madiba. The body is under constant vigil by the military’s national ceremonial guard.
The proceedings included a parade with a gun carriage drawn by soldiers and moment of silence.
As most of the dignitaries will not attend the Official State Funeral in Qunu on Sunday, the occasion is seen as the world leaders’ last final respects to the man who has been hailed as a giant of history and someone who moved a nation towards justice and liberation.
The first batch of mourners to pay homage to Madiba included the Mandela family. They were led by President Jacob Zuma. The group included an emotional Graca Machel, Madiba’s wife, as well as former wife Winnie Madikezela Mandela, the elder stateman’s children and grandchildren as well as several government ministers and former President Thabo Mbeki.
The second batch to file past the body and pay their last respects were leaders from continents all across the world. Each took their turn in an orderly and dignified manner to either say a prayer at the body or pass by after viewing it.
The leaders included Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, Malawian President Joyce Banda, a delegation for the United Arab Emirates, Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba and Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Mandela’s trusted aide for many years Zelda la Grange cut an emotional picture as she walked hand in hand with Irish singer Bono, who is known for his activism against apartheid. Anant Singh, who produced the film: Long Walk to Freedom was also in the groups that paid their final respects.
Madiba’s body arrived at the Union Buildings just before 8am this morning in a somewhat sombre mood. Mandla Mandela has been sitting with the coffin since it arrived. Ndaba Mandela and some of elders together with Mandla had received his body earlier.
The convoy carrying his remains had travelled from 1 Military Hospital in Thaba Tshwane, through the streets where ordinary South Africans made a public guard of honour.
His coffin is standing in the same spot where he was sworn in as the country’s first democratically elected president.
His remains will lie in state at the Union Buildings’ amphitheatre every day until Friday.
President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday renamed the amphitheatre the Nelson Mandela amphitheatre.
“This is a fitting tribute to a man who transformed the Union Buildings from a symbol of racism and repression to one of peace, unity, democracy and progress,” President Zuma announced during his tribute at the memorial service on Tuesday.
The dignitaries will view Mandela’s body until noon, while the public will be able to file past the body from noon until 5.30pm.
On Thursday and Friday, the public will have access to the amphitheatre to view the coffin from 8am until 5.30pm.
Mourners are advised that cameras, including cell phones, will not be allowed at the Union Buildings. – SAnews.gov.za
Presidents – past and present – global leaders, royals and A-list celebrities have started to arrive at FNB Stadium to pay their last respects at an unprecedented gathering that will hail one of humanity’s great peacemakers.
At least 91 Heads of State and Government will put aside world politics for four hours and unite as they recall, reflect, honour and bid farewell to the icon that is Nelson Mandela — a clear sign of the kind of impact that the former South African President left on the world.
President Jacob Zuma has arrived with his wife Thobeka Zuma. Nobel Prize Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu arrived moments before.
US President Barack Obama, who will address mourners, has also arrived at the stadium with his wife Michelle Obama.
They are accompanied by three former Presidents of the US, including George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton with his wife former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and their daughter Chelsea, as well as Attorney General Eric Holder.
Cuban leader Raul Castro – the erstwhile President Fidel Castro’s brother, a long-time friend of Mandela’s – is already present. He will deliver a speech later.
Prince Charles, Sir John Major, former UK Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are accompanying UK Prime Minister David Cameron.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, French President Francois Hollande, Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas are also present.
From the continent, Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe and Namibian President Hifkepunye Pohamba, who is also scheduled to speak at the service, have arrived.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, African Union Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, and former UN chief Kofi Annan are also present.
Mandela’s long-time friends George Bizos and Andrew Mlangeni have arrived. Mlangeni will speak at the ceremony.
Among the celebrity mourners are talk show queen Oprah Winfrey and model Naomi Campbell, singer/activist Bono, British billionaire Sir Richard Branson, musician Peter Gabriel and the pop music group Spice Girls.
Mandela’s wife, Graca Machel, former wife Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, his family, including his grandchildren – who will pay tribute to Mandela at the ceremony – have also arrived.
The 95 000-seat stadium in Soweto, the township that was at the heart of the anti-apartheid struggle, is the site of Mandela’s last public appearance, when he waved to fans from the back of a golf cart at the final of the 2010 Soccer World Cup.
The service is seen as the final chance for grieving South Africans to unite in mass celebration of Mandela’s life before the exclusive State Funeral.
From tomorrow, Mandela’s body will lie in state at the Union Buildings until Friday. He will be buried on Sunday in Qunu, his rural hometown in the Eastern Cape. – SAnews.gov.za
The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) has awarded the South African arm of German engineering company Siemens a €180-million (R2.7-billion) contract to implement world-class signalling systems and track upgrades on the Johannesburg and Pretoria rail networks.
Announcing the award of the contract on Wednesday, Prasa CEO Lucky Montana said the signalling systems project would increase capacity and ensure more flexibility, greater safety and fewer train delays in Gauteng province.
“The need for more effective train control is important as the number, speed, mass and length of the trains in Gauteng increase,” Montana said in a statement issued by Siemens.
The agency is preparing to replace South Africa’s ageing passenger fleet with modern commuter trains, which are expected to hit the tracks in 2015. Montana said Prasa would be spending almost R7-billion over the next three years on signalling system upgrades countrywide.
Siemens said the signalling overhaul was “first of its kind for South Africa”, involving the replacement of outdated technology – some of it dating back to the 1930s – with modern electronic systems.
“Key features of the upgrade include the introduction of electronic interlocking systems, the upgrade and/or building of new relay rooms, a brand new train detection system, overhead and track changes, and implementation of a custom-designed train control operating system across the entire Gauteng network,” the company said in a statement.
Siemens was first commissioned in 2011 to upgrade a quarter of the province’s signalling system and to build a state-of-the-art central operations centre. The new contract will involve the modernisation of the remaining three-quarters of Gauteng’s signalling network.
“Completion of the rail signalling project will see the Gauteng railway network aligned with modern urban rail networks across the world,” said Lucio Lefebvre, senior project manager at Siemens South Africa.
According to Lefebvre, a main feature of the central operations centre is a command room housing a 52-metre wide video wall that shows the movement of trains and all activity across the entire Gauteng rail network. A fully integrated monitoring system will pick up faults and any tampering with the network.
“The new system is vandal-resistant, and rigorous measures against theft and sabotage have been incorporated into the full network design,” Lefebvre said, adding: “The whole project is underpinned by stringent testing and safety processes.”
Siemens said local production would account for 60% of the project, with much of the engineering, manufacturing and testing due to take place at its factory in Northriding, Johannesburg.
With around 25 000 kilometres of track, South Africa’s railway network is the largest in Africa and the tenth largest in the world. Gauteng, the country’s smallest but most densely populated province, is South Africa’s economic hub as well as a financial and logistical gateway to the southern African region.
US President Barack Obama has arrived at Waterkloof Air Force Base, ahead of the official Memorial Service of later former President Nelson Mandela.
President Obama is being accompanied by former US President George W. Bush, his wife Laura Bush, as well as former US President Bill Clinton, along with his wife, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former President Jimmy Carter and his wife.
He was welcomed by International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.
In a rare moment in history, Obama is one of 91 Heads of State and Government and 10 former Heads of State who are expected to attend the historic event at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg.
Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane said yesterday that government had extended a warm welcome to all guests arriving in the country.
Government had advised the visiting leaders, some of whom arrived today, to attend tomorrow’s memorial service, rather than Sunday’s burial in Qunu in the Eastern Cape. – SAnews.gov.za
Nelson Mandela passed away at his home in Johannesburg in the late hours of December 5th 2013. The 95 year old will leave us as the most respected political leader the world has ever known, one of the most universally popular human beings in modern history and an inspiration to the entire world.
His attitude and determination has made the country what it is today and without Mandela, South Africa would undoubtedly be a very different place.
Tributes from world leaders have been coming in from various nations. British Prime Minister, David Cameron said: “A great light has gone out in the world. Nelson Mandela was a hero of our time.”
Us President Barack Obama said: “He no longer belongs to us, he belongs to the ages.”
Jacob Zuma announced the news, saying: “This is the moment of our deepest sorrow, our nation has lost its greatest son.”
It is unlikely that we will ever witness a human being with such powers of reconciliation and influence.
One thing that is for sure is that we can all be inspired by the life and times of Madiba.