Thousands brave rain, chilly weather

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Pretoria - Not even the early winter chill and wet weather has managed to stop the thousands of people from all corners of the country who are thronging into the lawns of the Union Buildings this morning.

Young and old, male and female, from all walks of life, armed with umbrellas and blankets, are jubilantly making their way to the lawns of the Union Buildings to be a part of the historic day.

From as early as 6am, people began arriving to witness the historic inauguration of President-elect Jacob Zuma. Many thousands more are expected to arrive before the formal proceedings kick off at 11am.

In order to keep themselves warm, people are buying coffee from nearby shops and vendors, while hundreds of members of the Metro Police and South African Police services are busy controlling the traffic and giving directions to invited guests.

Many streets around the Union Buildings have been blocked off to accommodate the masses expected today.

South Africans have been arriving to the lawns with the help of park-and-ride buses which picked them up from the Pretoria Show Grounds, as well as in private buses and taxi's. Metrorail had arranged that early morning trains from Johannesburg to the city would be free of charge.

Many are dancing to live performances from local artists, while African National Congress (ANC) supporters, wearing their party t-shirts and jackets, are blowing their Vuvuzela's, while waiting for the President elect.

The atmosphere is one of excitement and aniticipation.

A delighted Nonkululeko Kunene from Empangeni in Kwazulu-Natal, who arrived in Pretoria before 4am, said today was a day that would go down in South Africa's history books.

"This presidential inauguration is one of largest events I have ever witnessed in my life. To me, it highlights the maturity of South Africa's democracy which is 15 years old," she said.

Ms Kunene said she hoped President-elect Jacob Zuma's leadership would be socially orientated and focus on empowering and developing poor communities.

"I hope he will stick to the pledge he made during his election campaign and make his administration more transparent by working according to the eight principles of Batho Pele and the Freedom Charter.

"I wish Mr Zuma all the best and I think he is a suitable leader to govern the country and I hope his administration will be accountable to ordinary citizen not only few elite," said Ms Kunene.