Cape Town - Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, left off the official programme for the Nelson Mandela memorial in Joburg on Tuesday, has been snubbed again and will not be attending the funeral of his long-time friend in Qunu.
The news broke on Friday as world leaders prepared to travel to Qunu along with members of the Mandela family, friends of the iconic statesman, and a huge press corps.
Tutu was asked at the last minute to give the blessing at the official memorial at FNB Stadium earlier this week, where he remonstrated with the crowd after they loudly booed President Jacob Zuma whenever he appeared on the giant television screens.
There has been speculation that Tutu, known for his fearless opposition to apartheid, was snubbed because of his sometimes outspoken criticism of the government.
His daughter, Reverend Mpho Tutu, the chief executive of the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, confirmed on Friday that he would not be going to Qunu.
“The archbishop is not an accredited clergy person and will thus not be attending,” she told Weekend Argus.
It has been a difficult time for Tutu, who was clearly distressed by Mandela’s death when he spoke to the media the day after the world learnt of his death. The cleric’s Milnerton home was also burgled for the second time while he was in Johannesburg for the memorial.
Mandela stayed with Tutu after his release from Victor Verster prison in 1990, following 27 years behind bars.
Tutu has presided at the funerals of major struggle figures dating back as far as those of Black Consciousness leader Steve Biko in 1977, and PAC leader Robert Sobukwe in 1978, ANC leader Walter Sisulu in 2003, and fellow anti-apartheid cleric Beyers Naudé in 2004.
On Friday night the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) could not say who would be presiding at the funeral of Mandela, who was a Methodist.
According to military protocol for state funerals such as that being accorded to Mandela, the SANDF chaplain-general, Brigadier General Monwabisi Jamangile, will attend.
But it is not clear whether he will conduct the service.
It is understood that attendance at the funeral is by invitation only, after the Mandela family asked that it be kept as private as possible.
Zuma and his cabinet will be there, along with foreign dignitaries including Britain’s Prince Charles, US politician Jesse Jackson, Lesotho’s King Letsie III, Malawian President Joyce Banda, and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete.
Speaking at a tribute to Mandela in Johannesburg on Monday, Tutu said the “best tribute each one of us can give is to embrace the values he gave us.
“He may not be physically with us, but let us not make a mistake and think he is not with us.
“Ours is to continue to proclaim the message of his values… Whether it is easy or difficult for us to do so,” Tutu said during a prayer service at the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory.
On Tuesday, Tutu told the crowd at the FNB Stadium to “show the world that we are disciplined”, adding that he would not bless them until he could hear a pin drop.
“We promise God that we are going to follow the example of Nelson Mandela,” he said.