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Madiba: Nearly 100 heads of state expected

The gathering of leaders and royalty is being described as unprecedented and historic.

Nelson Mandela waves as he arrives at the Elysee Palace in Paris, 7 June 1990. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG/PRETORIA - The number of heads of state travelling to South Africa to bid farewell to former president Nelson Mandela is fast approaching 100.

The gathering of presidents, prime ministers and royalty is being described as unprecedented and historic.

Government says it's all systems go and both the logistics and diplomatic protocols are under control.

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation says the numbers keep changing, but at least 91 heads of state have now confirmed their attendance.

There are also at least 10 former heads of state, 75 dignitaries and 86 delegations being led by ministers.

Eyewitness News compiled this up-to-date map of the various countries sending their leaders to South Africa to honour Madiba. Zoom in and hover over the counties with your mouse to see who's coming.

Department spokesperson Clayson Monyela says government is confident all plans will run smoothly.

"We believe we have a blueprint for what to do when hosting such large numbers of guests, particularly heads of states and government-level delegates. We believe we have got a good plan."

GAUTENG AIRPORTS

Eyewitness News can confirm at least seven heads of state are expected to land at the Waterkloof Air Force Base in Centurion within the next 12 hours.

This includes leaders from Equatorial Guinea, Chad, Senegal, Canada and China.

Dignitary points of entry have been set up at Waterkloof, as well as the OR Tambo International Airport and Lanseria.

President Barack Obama is only scheduled to depart from the United States this evening.

He is expected land at Waterkloof on Tuesday morning.

It was only just over five months ago that Obama visited South Africa on an official state visit, when he also managed to spend time with the Mandela family as Madiba underwent treatment in hospital.

US President Barack Obama and his family disembark Air Force One at Waterkloof Air Force Base, 28 June 2013. Picture: AFP.

Former presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W Bush will join Obama on the Air Force One.

British Prime Minister David Cameron and former prime ministers John Major, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are also expected, along with Prince Charles who will represent the Queen.

When Blair visited South Africa last year, his presence was met with a mixed reaction, with protests over his role in the Iraq war, which was also led by Bush.

It's understood the various global dignitaries will be staying in hotels in and around Sandton and Pretoria.

The majority will be attending Tuesday's memorial service at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg rather than the official state funeral in Qunu in the Eastern Cape.

For an up-to-date and comprehensive guide to the various events taking place this week, including information on transport, see EWN's special guide, Saying goodbye to Madiba: Event planner, or the shorter guide, _ Mandela events: Brief information guide._

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