Prayers and dignity in KZN

2013-12-13 00:00

DURBAN will host South Africa’s second largest Nelson Mandela memorial service today — and the ANC’s foot soldiers have vowed to act against any ill discipline in the crowd.

Some 80 000 people, dozens of religious leaders, ministers and royalty will converge on the Moses Mabhida Stadium by bus, taxi and train.

President Jacob Zuma, the subject of boos at the memorial service at FNB stadium in Soweto on Tuesday, is not expected to attend as he is reportedly with the Mandela family.

The service, which is to be dominated by prayers from a large interfaith mission, is the penultimate event before several hundred KZN ANC supporters are bused to Qunu where Mandela is expected to be laid to rest in front of 5 000 VIP mourners. The overflow will be expected to camp out on distant fields.

National ministers, provincial leadership from neighbouring provinces, royalty including an invitation to the Swazi Royal Household, and the diplomatic corps based in Durban such as U.S. and Indian consuls-general, are also expected to attend.

KZN Premier’s Office spokesperson Ndabe Sibiya said the province has chosen to focus on a religious theme because of Mandela’s enduring friendship with and use of religious leaders who helped him bring to an end the political violence that ravaged the province for much of the 1990s.

“It is because of Mandela’s prayers and message of non-violence that the province has seen a period of economic development rising to the second largest contributor to the country’s GDP,” saidSibiya.

But after Zuma was humiliated in front of a worldwide audience, including 90 world leaders such as President Barak Obama and UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday, at the official state memorial for Mandela at the FNB Stadium, Soweto, the KZN Mkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association chairperson, General Themba Mavundla, has vowed they will “lay their lives on the line” to maintain order in Durban.

“I promise we will take action. We will not tolerate ill-discipline. Tuesday’s booing of the president caught everyone by surprise, but we have now learnt our lesson and will react quickly,” said Mavundla.

Meanwhile, ANC provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala assured there was “no panic” within the party and that the booing at the FNB Stadium event would not be repeated in KZN.

“Obviously we were concerned about what happened, but there is no worry that it will happen again and this is not because of the perceived support our president has in KZN.

“We have strong structures [in the province] in which the message of respect and discipline has been filtered through,” said Zikalala

But independent political analyst Proteas Madlala believes the ANC has cause for concern, calling Tuesday’s incident “the start of things to come”.

“What goes around comes around. Several years ago [in the run-up to and after the 2008 Polokwane national ANC elective conference] we saw former president Thabo Mbeki treated in a similar measure by Zuma supporters. What happened is a cause of concern. This is just the beginning and we can expect worse things to come,” said Madlala.

Professor Ufo Uzodike, head of the School of Politics at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, said the booing of Zuma would have been “humiliating for the president”.

“We must consider that in future international negotiations Zuma could be perceived to be weak at home by his [counterparts]. More importantly it is difficult to quantify what informal opportunities for the country with world leaders were missed because of the reception he received,” he said.

From tomorrow, the KZN ANC will ferry a large delegation from its southern branches as well as the powerful eThekwini block to the Eastern Cape for Mandela’s funeral. However, just who will attend is a closely guarded secret.

The Witness has learnt that almost all of the party’s national body leadership, including 13 members from KZN, will attend the funeral, as will the party’s senior provincial leadership.

King Goodwill Zwelithini, who was been noticeably absent from all the memorial proceedings, has sent 50 sheep and 10 head of cattle to the Mandela family.

Royal spokesperson Prince Thulani Zulu said it is custom that the Zulu king doesn’t attend funerals or memorial services.

He is not allowed to even attend funerals of his own children. “However, 10 members of the family will attend today’s memorial, while Prince Mboniseni Zulu will lead another delegation on Sunday.”

Event to be a religious affair

THE Nelson Mandela memorial service to be held at the Moses Mabhida Stadium today will see the province’s leading religious figures offer prayers in memory of the late statesman.

KZN Premier Senzo Mchunu is expected to deliver the keynote address along with speeches by several provincial political leaders.

Starting at 8 am with proceedings ending at about 2 pm, all roads around the stadium will be closed with the restrictions being lifted at 7 pm.

Those arriving by bus will disembark at various sites identified on the plan and walk to the venue. Marshalls will be directing people to and from the stadium.

The municipality has said it will turn people away if the stadium is filled to capacity for safety and security reasons.

Other speakers include the leader of the SACP, Blade Nzimande, and Nosiviwe Maphisa-Nqakula, who will speak on behalf of the ANC.

Musical items are expected from a host of provincial gospel artists including Nhlakanipho Cele, Fikile Mlomo, Mthokozisi Zakwe, Mvuselelo Buthelezi, Andile ka Majola and Hlengiwe Mhlaba.

PHOTO: Ian Carbutt

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