World leaders to speak at Mandela memorial

2013-12-09 20:47

kalahari.com

Johannesburg - South Africa prepared on Monday for a massive memorial in the FNB Stadium in Soweto honouring Nelson Mandela, where an eclectic mix of world leaders will eulogise the anti-apartheid icon before a crowd of nearly 100 000 mourners.

As a prelude to the stadium event, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu spoke at an event at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory on Monday night.

"What a fantastic gift God gave to us in this Mandela, who quickly became an icon, a global icon of forgiveness, of generosity of spirit," Tutu said.

"He really was like a magician with a magic wand, turning us into this glorious, multi-coloured, rainbow people," said Tutu.

At the Soweto stadium where Mandela made his last public appearance at the 2010 World Cup, workers busily constructed a stage protected by bulletproof glass for Tuesday's memorial.

Police promised "thousands" of officers would secure the stadium, though security appeared lax on Monday and a security company owner used his small car as a mobile office to hire guards just at the stadium.

Nearly 100 heads of state are expected at the 95 000-capacity FNB Stadium, where some mourners are already camped out to be the first ones inside.

Authorities expect overflow crowds to watch the event at nearby stadiums as well, saying they'd shut off access if the crowds grow too large.

Security

Officers will direct traffic, protect mourners and help the bodyguards of visiting dignitaries, Lieutenant General Solomon Makgale, a spokesperson for SAPS, said on Monday.

"We will be on hand to make sure people are able to grieve in a safe environment," Makgale told AP.

Makgale said a joint taskforce of police, diplomats and intelligence service personnel already have been making plans and talking to the foreign delegations who plan to attend the ceremony.

Makgale said police were prepared for Tuesday's event, which also will include speeches from Mandela's family and friends.

"Whether we have 10 heads of state coming or 70 or 100, we do have the capacity and plans in place to facilitate their movement," Makgale said.

US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle left Washington for Johannesburg aboard Air Force One on Monday. In a rare get-together, they were joined by former president George Bush, his wife Laura and former first lady Hillary Clinton. Former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter are travelling separately to South Africa.

Speakers

A programme showed Obama would speak, as would UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao.

Others speakers include Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba, Indian President Pranab Mukherjee and Cuban President Raul Castro. President Jacob Zuma will give the keynote address.

Though security remains a concern, an AP reporter walked unsearched into the stadium on Monday by showing only a national press card issued in Europe.

It took about three minutes before a security officer asked journalists to leave the stadium's field. However, reporters freely roamed throughout the stadium and walked the aisles to see the ongoing stage construction.

Officials from the US Consulate in Johannesburg also toured the venue on Monday, but declined to speak to journalists.

Programme

Here's a look at some of the scheduled events and speeches in chronological order:

Choir sings South Africa's national anthem.

Opening remarks and interfaith prayers.

Speech by Mandela family friend Andrew Mlangeni.

Speech by family member General Thanduxolo Mandela.

Tributes by the former leader's grandchildren Mbuso Mandela, Andile Mandela, Zozuko Dlamini and Phumla Mandela.

Speech by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Speech by AU Commission Chair Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

Speech by Obama.

Speeches by presidents of Brazil, Chinese vice president, Namibia, India and Cuba.

Keynote address by President Jacob Zuma.

Sermon by Bishop Ivan Abrahams.

Extra guards , road closures

Meanwhile, a private security firm called Sidas Security was still hiring guards for Tuesday's event on Monday, using a compact car as an office.

Sidas manager George Mathabe said the company will have 1 500 guards on duty on Tuesday.

"I'm doing this from the bottom of my heart, just to thank Tata," Mathabe said.

"My son is coming tomorrow as a visitor too. He's going to live in a free country. He's going to be able to do whatever he likes thanks to Tata."

Roads several square kilometers around the stadium will be closed Tuesday, and people will have to walk or take public transport to the stadium.

Mandela died on Thursday at age 95. After the stadium memorial on Tuesday, Mandela's body will lie in state at the Union Buildings, the seat of government in South Africa's capital, Pretoria, from Wednesday to Friday.

He will be buried Sunday in Qunu, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate's rural hometown.

Parliament held a special session on Monday in honour of Mandela.

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe opened the proceedings with a speech describing how the icon's death caused a "sweeping feeling of sorrow" around the world.

"He belongs to all humanity," Motlanthe said. He added: "Mandela's ideals saturate the face of the Earth."

DA leader Helen Zille said South Africa inherited "an enormous responsibility" from Mandela to ensure everyone had "freedom you can use."

"He has handed the baton to us and we dare not drop it," Zille said.

- Send us your memories and photos of Nelson Mandela.

- Friends, colleagues, comrades and family of Nelson Mandela are invited to share their memories and tributes, and to light a candle for him, on his profile at Remembered.co.za.

- AP

Read more on:    nelson mandela  |  johannesburg ­
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