South Africa’s security institutions are working with foreign officials to provide protection for the heads of state and government at Tuesday’s memorial service of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, according to Lindiwe Zulu, an advisor to President Jacob Zuma.
More than 80 foreign leaders have confirmed their intention to attend, say South African officials. The government has declared 10 days of mourning following the death of the former president.
Zulu expressed confidence in the government’s ability to manage such a large event. She says South Africa’s success hosting the finals of the 2010 FIFA soccer World Cup shows that the country has the ability to ensure Mandela’s memorial service is also a success.
“When you talk about security,” she said, “we have institutions that are very experienced already running huge events in South Africa and so far we have never had any major hiccups.”
Zulu said the country’s security officials will provide the high level of protection needed by attending foreign heads of state and government. She said the security officials are working with representatives of the leaders to ensure a smooth successful program.
“This [memorial service] is even much more important for us because we have the world backing us. We have South Africans in each and every corner really looking forward to ensuring that the sending off of Mandela is as smooth as it possibly can,” said Zulu.
Zulu said the South African government and citizens are ready following thorough preparations to bid farewell to the former president.
“We have special institutions that have the capacity to deal with such issues, so we are ready for the funeral,” said Zulu. “We have a plan in motion, and we are satisfied because the administration is working very closely with the family of former president Nelson Mandela -- obviously because we have to respect the fact that he belongs to a family even though he was a statesman.”
She said Madiba, as Nelson Mandela is called by his clan name, should not only be mourned, but also celebrated since he lived a full life in spite of nearly three decades of imprisonment.
“He left an indelible mark on humanity, and our [task] is now to pick up that and continue where he left off, because we are sure that he will rest in peace, particularly because he knew that [ANC] leadership is also capable,” said Zulu. “He is one of the leaders who truly believed in collective leadership. We hope that we will be able to carry that on to make sure that we collectively take South Africa forward, united.”
Zulu, who was forced into exile in Angola, Uganda and Tanzania and Zambia under the former apartheid government, recalls meetings with Mandela following his release from jail.
“When he came out of prison, he came to address us. The message he carried to us at the time, as young and angry as we were to return to fight the system, [was] that the [ANC] had taken a decision that we were going to attain our independence through negotiations,” said Zulu.
“We said to ourselves if he could spend 27 years in prison and come out with the kind of message, who were we to argue that? Instead we joined his call together with the leadership of the ANC hence we have this democratic, non-racial and non-sexist South Africa.”