Unclear if Mandela will be at ANC party
Bloemfontein - There is no indication whether former ANC President Nelson Mandela would attend the party’s centenary celebrations this coming weekend, ANC chairperson Baleka Mbete said on Wednesday.
“We continue to hope,” Mbete told journalists, adding that the party was in contact with the Mandela family.
Mbete said a total of 46 sitting heads of state had confirmed their attendance for the event.
Former heads of state who confirmed were President Jerry Rawlings from Ghana, former Namibian president Sam Nujoma, former Zambian President Kenneth Kaunda and former Mozambique President Joachim Chissano.
Mbete said confirmation was also received from 80 fraternal parties such as the MPLA, Swapo, Frelimo, PAIGC, the Norwegian Labour Party, Communist Party of Cuba, the German Social Democratic Party and the National Congress of India.
Some 50 participants from anti-apartheid movements from all over the world, including the families of prominent figures such as the late Father Trevor Huddleston and many well-known persons such as the Reverend Jesse Jackson would attend.
Mbete said the list of dignitaries was changing all the time and it would only be known by Friday. She said the importance of the centenary celebration was evident in the international interest it had generated.
Locally most South African opposition parties will attend Sunday’s event.
This includes the IFP, Cope, APC, UDM and the DA.
Nine recognised kings will attend as well as many traditional healer organisations, and religious and traditional leaders.
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and representatives of the National Interfaith Council of SA (Nicsa), which includes major faith-based organisations, such as the SACC and AACC, would be in Mangaung.
The ANC said it was unfortunate that African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) leader Reverend Kenneth Meshoe had decided not to honour the centenary celebrations.
Meshoe has rebuked the ANC for dedicating South Africa to the ancestors and spirits of the dead, mostly dead ANC leaders.
ANC chaplain-general Reverend Vukile Mehana said Meshoe forgot that the ANC was a formation of many social forces, including interfaith and ecumenical formations with different beliefs, cultures and theologies.
“The character and policy of the ANC includes recognition, respect, and tolerance of all such religions and faith-based formations including African religion on a fair and equal basis.”
ANC chief whip Mathole Motshekga, organiser of the centenary’s cultural events, said Meshoe was a drop in the ocean. He said Christians also remembered those that had passed on.
He said African beliefs had regained its status in South Africa and the inter-faith basis of the ANC should be respected.
Mbete also indicated that the centenary celebrations were not about worshipping ancestors.
She said the ANC would venerate the spirit of those who were part of its history in accordance with African theology principles, which the ANC fully embraced and promoted.