8 December 2013

South Africa: Heads of State to Descend On SA

South Africa will from today see the arrival of various Heads of State and Government and a broad range of eminent persons, including royalty, to its shores.

To date, 13 African states, in addition to 15 from outside the continent, have confirmed that they will be arriving in South Africa to join the country's citizens as they mourn, reflect and celebrate the legacy of the former statesman Nelson Mandela.

Mandela, fondly known as the father of the South African nation, passed away in his Houghton home, on Thursday evening. International and regional organisations from the United Nations and European Commission to the African Union, for example, have also confirmed attendance.

Eleven Eminent Persons will also be in South Africa during this period.

A large contingent is expected from the United States alone. President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle Obama will be accompanied by three former Presidents - Carter, Bush (George W), Clinton and their spouses, and 26 Congressmen.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff will also be in the country, accompanied for four former Heads of State: Presidents Sarney, Melo, Cardoso and Lula da Silva.

"The fact that international leaders are making their way to South Africa at such short notice reflects the special place President Mandela holds in the hearts of people around the globe," Minister in the Presidency for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, Collins Chabane, told a media briefing on Sunday.

He added that the South African government was "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."

He expressed government's gratitude for these gestures.

Chabane said more confirmations were expected, adding that all international guests are most welcome in the country as they join its people during this time.

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