JOHANNESBURG, (Xinhua): A total of 91 high-profile guests including heads of state and government and 10 former heads of state had confirmed by Monday noon that they would attend the national memorial service at FNB Stadium, Johannesburg, the South African government said on Monday.
Kings, queens, princes and princesses will be joined at FNB Stadium by representatives of international organizations such as the United Nations, the African Union, the European Union, the Commonwealth and the World Bank, Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane said in the update on preparations for Mandela’s memorial service on Dec. 10.
President Jacob Zuma will address the national memorial service.
Other speakers will include national leaders and international dignitaries, including some heads of state and government.
“We extend a warm South African welcome to all leaders, eminent persons and delegations who are making their way to South Africa to be with us at this time of mourning and celebration,” he said.
The government has advised visiting leaders to attend the memorial service in Johannesburg in preference to Mandela’s burial in Qunu in Eastern Cape Province on Dec. 15.
“This is (in) view of the logistical challenges of hosting large delegations of VVIPs and VIPs in a village such as Qunu,” Chabane said.
The Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) has put measures in place to handle the influx of visitors, said Chabane.
Hosting such a large number of high-profile guests is a huge challenge. Both local and international journalists have been complaining about the difficulty in getting accreditation.
Journalists usually wait eight to 10 hours outside the Johannesburg Expo Center to get press credentials.
“We are doing our best to make it as comfortable and productive for journalists to cover this significant event in our country, and we will keep you updated on media logistics throughout this period,” Chabane said.
“Most of the problems have been ironed out and by 5 a.m. today, we had issued permits to more than 1,500 media professionals,” he said.
After the national memorial service, Mandela’s body will lie in state in the Union Buildings in Pretoria for three days beginning from Wednesday.
South Africans and selected international visitors and guests will be able to view Mandela’s remains during this time.
On Saturday, Mandela’s remains will be transported to the Eastern Cape from Air Force Base Waterkloof in Pretoria, where the ruling African National Congress will bid Mandela farewell.
Also on this day, a procession will take place from Mthatha to Qunu where the Thembu community will conduct a traditional ceremony.
On Sunday, a funeral service and interment ceremony will take place at Mandela’s home and final resting place at Qunu in the Eastern Cape.
Mandela died of a long standing lung disease on Thursday at his Johannesburg home at the age of 95.