JOHANNESBURG (AP) – Another snag hit South Africa’s long goodbye to anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela today when his fellow anti-apartheid foe Desmond Tutu said he had not been accredited as a clergyman at the funeral by the government so would not attend.
Mac Maharaj, a spokesman for South African president Jacob Zuma, insisted that Tutu is on the guest list and that he hopes a solution will be found so Tutu is present. He said he had verified that Tutu had been invited.
The 82-year-old retired Anglican archbishop of Cape Town indicated he felt he had been snubbed by the current government, with which he has clashed several times in the past.
“Much as I would have loved to attend the service to say a final farewell to someone I loved and treasured, it would have been disrespectful to Tata (Mandela) to gatecrash what was billed as a private family funeral,” Tutu said in a statement.
“Had I or my office been informed that I would be welcome there is no way on earth that I would have missed it.”
It was the latest problem to hit the ten-day mourning period for Mandela, the former president who died on December 5 at age 95.
The public memorial ceremony for Mandela on Tuesday at a Soweto stadium started late, had problems with loudspeakers and featured a signing interpreter for the deaf who made incomprehensible gestures, is a self-described schizophrenic and reportedly once faced charges of murder and other serious crimes.
Maharaj said he did not know whether Tutu had been invited to eulogize Mandela. Tutu has preached at the funerals of most major anti-apartheid figures, including Steve Biko, Chris Hani, Walter Sisulu and others.