Planning at advanced stage for Pres Inauguration

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Pretoria - With just ten days to go for South Africa's much anticipated Presidential Inauguration, plans are at an advanced stage with 18 Heads of State and Government already having confirmed their attendance.

More than 5 000 invited guests are expected to join in the celebrations at the amphitheatre of the Union Buildings on 9 May.

Briefing the media on plans for the big event, Minister in the Presidency Manto Tshabalala-Msimang said the inauguration would be a culmination of the positive mood generated by the success of South Africa's fourth democratic elections.

Members of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces, who will be sworn-in on on 6 and 7 May respectively will also join the celebrations.

The event will see heads of state, members of parliament, newly elected premiers, presiding officers of parliament, diplomats, and officials from the United Nations, African Union and SADC as well as the international business and community leaders descend on the city, the minister said.

Outlining the proceedings for the day, Minister Tshabalala-Msimang said the President-elect, Jacob Zuma, will take an Oath of Office in the presence of heads of states and government, including invited guests, presided over by the Chief Justice and the Head of the Constitutional Court, Pius Langa.

She added that the President-elect will be joined on stage by the South African National Defence (SANDF) Force Generals and South African Police Service Commissioners.

After taking the oath, the President-elect will observe a Guard of Honour as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces to acknowledge the National Salute by the SANDF.

The National Salute comprises a salute flight by four South African Air Force helicopters and Astra Aircraft as well as a 21 round gun salute.

Minister Tshabalala-Msimang further explained that there will also be a mass fly-past and military aircraft display.

The lawns below the Union Buildings will also be packed with tens of thousands of people, bused in to witness the historic day.

According to the minister, over 30 000 members of the public are expected to be part of this historic event as South Africa celebrates 15 years of its democratic achievements.

There is also a cultural programme, with a number of artists lined up to entertain the public. In the provinces, there will be big screen events to allow people, outside of Gauteng, to join in the celebrations live in their own provinces.

In the evening, Monte Casino in Johannesburg will play host to a cultural programme, where artists like Jonas Gwangwa, Oliver Mtukudzi, Lira and African Footprint will entertain invited guests.

The glamorous event is estimated to cost R75 million - R60 million from the department of foreign affairs and R15 million from the department of public works.

Under the theme: "Together celebrating a vibrant democracy and building a better life for all' - the inauguration follows the resounding success of the fourth democratic elections, held last Wednesday, where millions of South Africans came out in their numbers to vote.