President in SA for Mandela’s memorial service

President Mugabe and First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe at the Harare International Airport on their way to South Africa for the late former President Nelson Mandela’s memorial service yesterday

President Mugabe and First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe at the Harare International Airport on their way to South Africa for the late former President Nelson Mandela’s memorial service yesterday

From Mabasa Sasa in JOHANNESBURG, South Africa
PRESIDENT Mugabe will today join over 90 current and former heads of state and government from around the world for the memorial service of former South African president Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela at the giant Soccer City Stadium here. Mr Mandela succumbed to a lung infection on December 5, aged 95.

He was incarcerated for 27 years by the apartheid regime before leading the ANC — Africa’s oldest liberation movement — to victory in elections in 1994 that ended half a century of apartheid and more than 300 years of racist colonial rule.

President Mugabe, who is accompanied by the First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe and their children Ms Bona and Chatunga, arrived here last night and was welcomed at Waterkloof Airbase by Ambassador to South Africa Cde Phelekezela Mphoko and embassy staff.

The President has described Mr Mandela as a champion of the oppressed.

Mr Mandela will be buried on December 15 at his ancestral village of Qunu in Eastern Cape Province.

From December 11 to 13, Mr Mandela’s remains will lie in state at Union Buildings in Tshwane as part of the week of national mourning.

President Zuma was quoted by Sapa saying, “We should all work together to organise the most fitting funeral for this outstanding son of our country and the father of our young nation.”

Yesterday, South Africa’s Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane told Xinhua, “The fact that international leaders are making their way to South Africa at such short notice reflects the special place president Nelson Mandela holds in the hearts of people around the globe.

“We are touched by the fact that many countries have declared periods of mourning, ordered that flags be flown at half-mast and draped or lit landmarks in the colours of the South African flag. We truly appreciate these gestures.”

Last week, President Mugabe wrote to President Zuma expressing Zimbabwe’s shared grief in the loss of a fighter for justice.

“Mr Nelson Mandela’s renowned and illustrious political life will forever remain a beacon of excellence. Not only was he a great champion of the emancipation of the oppressed, but he also was a humble and compassionate leader who showed selfless dedication to the service of his people.

“We join the rest of the nation in mourning his departure. The late Nelson Mandela will forever remain in our minds as an unflinching fighter for justice,” President Mugabe said, adding: “Please accept, Your Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.”

Born on July 18, 1918 in Umtata in Transkei, Mr Mandela was to overcome his humble beginnings to challenge apartheid and was among the first to advocate armed resistance in 1960, after having already been instrumental in the formation of the influential ANC Youth League.

The apartheid regime detained Mr Mandela for 27 years but he emerged to become President of South Africa in landmark all-race elections in 1994 before retiring in 1999.

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993, an honour he shared with Frederick W de Klerk, the last white Afrikaner leader of South Africa.

As President, Mandela faced the weighty task of laying the foundations for a new nation haunted by deep racial injustices, and economic and social injustices, many of which persist up to today.

He was to be succeeded as President by Thabo Mbeki and made his last major public appearance in 2010 at the FIFA Soccer World Cup — the first time the show-piece was staged on African soil.

Zimbabwe and South Africa’s ties run long and deep, with liberation movements from the two countries collaborating to fight the oppressive Western-backed regimes in their two countries. Those racist regimes largely worked hand-in-glove to ensure indigenous peoples remained second class citizens.

Zimbabwe, after gaining independence in 1980, hosted South African liberation fighters and nationalists and provided support for their struggle against Apartheid.

So close were the two countries that, as revealed by former President Mbeki, Zimbabwe delayed its land reform revolution so as to give liberation fighters in South Africa time to first deal with apartheid before confronting colonially privileged white former farmers back home.

It was felt at the time that should Zimbabwe initiate widespread land reforms, the ensuing backlash from white farmers and governments in Europe and North America would work against efforts to end white supremacist rule in South Africa.

Bilateral relations between South Africa and Zimbabwe improved substantially as apartheid officially ended.

President Mugabe formally met Mr Mandela for the first time on January 27, 1994 along with Botswana’s then President, Sir Ketumile Masire to find a peaceful resolution to a military mutiny in Lesotho.

Mr Mandela visited Harare in early 1995 and the two countries discussed trade issues and means of dismantling apartheid-era tariffs.

In November 1995, a ceremony attended by President Mugabe and Mr Mandela marked the opening of a new bridge linking the two countries, across the Limpopo River.

Since then, trade between Zimbabwe  and South Africa boomed, as have cultural exchanges. In the past decade, the trade – both formal and informal – has seen Zimbabwe’s cash economy pumping millions of US dollars into South Africa, and in the country in return accessing goods and services.

Mr Mandela’s successor, former president Mbeki, played a pivotal role in resolution of the political stand-off between Zimbabwe’s main political parties.

The fruit of Mr Mbeki’s efforts, the inclusive Government, paved the way for a key election on July 31, 2013 that saw President Mugabe romping to victory in a poll that South Africa joined many other observers in endorsing.

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  • 17Ethicist19

    A befitting memorial service for the icon, Nelson Mandela is the best accolade for a gallant fighter and son of the soil. May his soul rest in eternal peace.

  • Mimi

    Well done my President and 1st Lady for being there for Mandela. And let nothing spoil your giving a befitting farewell to Mandela. You are one in a million Gushungo, a true Pan Africanist and maybe one of the only ones remaining.

    • cedrick

      No flags have been ordered to fly at half-mast in Zimbabwe to mark Mandela’s death but they are at half mast all over the rest of the world, why is that mimi?.

    • succuba

      Mugabe never saw eye to eye with Mandela, around the world there was a minutes silence for the man, most sports events held a minutes applause for Mandela…. There was nothing in Zimbabwe.

      On Sunday, Mugabe addressed the funeral of a senior army official for about an hour and never mentioned Mandela’s death at all, it took him two days after everyone else to send condolences to SA.

      Mugabe is a hypocrite for going to the memorial.

      • chiendambuya

        travel allowance .. why else would he go?

  • makwavarara

    uri kuona here mudhara dumbu

  • wizo

    Ko tashaya mufananidzo uri nani here

    • wezhira

      ko hanti ndiyo current here vanhu mangojaira zvekuvhara vanhu unoda kuti vaise wariini mufananidzo wacho the man is old full stop moda NIKUV ne picture chaiyo haaa shame kikikikiki.

  • Mhofela

    …………….The fruit of Mr Mbeki’s efforts, the inclusive Government, paved the way for a key election on July 31, 2013 that saw President Mugabe romping to victory in a poll that South Africa joined many other observers in endorsing… NOT NECESSARY

  • Zimbo

    The USA 3 former head of states , Britain 3 Former heads of state, South africa has 2 former heads of state & zim our one and only one HE.

  • che guevera

    AFRICANS MUST TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO DISMISS ARTIFICIAL, OVERDRESSED DEVLISH COMMENTS FROM THE IMPERIAL WORLD TRYIND HARD TO WOODWINK THE AFRICAN CONTINENT…WHAT GOOD DO THEY SEE IN MANDELA TODAY THAT THEY FAILED TO SEE DURING THE 27 YEARS THAT THEY JAILED HIM??NXAAAAAAAAAA!!!! JUST BECAUSE HE FORGAVE THE UNREPENTANT RACISTS??? BULSHIT!!!!

    • succuba

      It must pain you che that the only person to get a standing ovation today from the crowd was Barack Obama.

    • Dodo

      better get to understand how international politics work before you say that. Care checking out the story of Gandhi…? or the Boer wars.

  • che guevera

    RIP MADIBA!!!

  • arnold

    Thank you Mr President and First lady for standing in for us on behalf of all Zimbabweans to give our fair wells to Madiba May the world know that we as Zimbabweans give our regards to a Nation that has lost a true LEGEND Mr Nelson (madiba) Mandela.

  • Mimi

    @a1757770f5e33b6fa8d970a08b93ecb2:disqus in answer to your question and with all due respect I doubt that you would know what a Flag stands for but I do.

    • cedrick

      refuse to answer the question as usual mimi, no change here then.

  • Mimi

    Bob ndizvo!!!!