South African President Jacob Zuma and his Namibian counterpart Hifkepunye Pohamba will be the only African leaders to speak at the Nelson Mandela memorial service in Johannesburg today. The list of speakers also includes UN secretary General Ban Ki Moon, Presidents Barack Obama of USA, Dilma Rousseff of Brazil, Raul Castro of Cuba, Pranab Murkjee of India and Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao.
The list of speakers also includes UN secretary General Ban Ki Moon, Presidents Barack Obama of USA, Dilma Rousseff of Brazil, Raul Castro of Cuba, Pranab Murkjee of India and Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao. Also on the list released to the media last night is African Union Commission Chairperson Dlamini Zuma.
At least 95,000 people are expected in FNB stadium in Johannesburg attend the prayers, five days after the former South African president died at his home aged 95 years. Ninety one presidents and heads of government are expected to attend the service. The memorial service will also be broadcast at three other stadiums in South Africa on big screens according to the BBC.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is already in Johannesburg for the event. From Britain, the Telegraph reports that Prime Minister David Cameron is leading a large political delegation to South Africa for Mandela’s funeral. The delegation includes former prime ministers Sir John Major, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband, the Leader of the Opposition.
President Barack Obama, former President George W Bush and their wives are in Pretoria after sharing a 16-hour flight on Air Force One. Two other former US presidents, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter are also expected as are 26 members of the US Congress.
Mandela is credited by many for leading the struggle to end apartheid and restoring democracy in South Africa. He was elected president in 1994 after spending 27 years in jail for opposing the white minority government. He retired in 1999 to take on his personal life.
After the stadium memorial, his 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 on Sunday in Qunu, his rural home in Eastern Cape Province.