All set, ready to go as guests take their seats at the UB

Saturday, May 9, 2009
By: 
Bathandwa Mbola

Union Buildings - Hundreds of invited guests, many in colourful African garb, had started taking their seats at the amphitheatre at the Union Buildings by 7:30am for the inauguration of Jacob Zuma as South Africa's President.

The amphitheatre has been dressed for the occasion with seat covers in varying shades of pink, mint green, blue and lilac. Guests are being provided with blankets to keep out the morning chill.

Dozens of South African flags were flying around the venue, with many of the guests dressed in elaborate headgear, helping to transform the normally drab grey buildings into a feast of colour.

The Union Buildings has been abuzz with excitement since 5am when journalists were bussed in for the day's festivities - being held at an estimated cost of R75m to the government.

Some 30 000 people are expected to attend the celebrations - not including an estimated 5 000 invited guests. The crowds that are already gathered on the lawns of the Union Buildings are keeping themselves occupied by singing and blowing vuvuzelas.

Some 29 presidents and royals, deputies and ministerial delegations from all over the world have been billed to attend, with 26 foreign dignitaries having already arrived in the country to witness the grand event.

Representatives of foreign delegations will start arriving shortly, before 9am.

Mr Zuma's induction to the highest office in the land will take place at 11:00am

Drummers and a brass band were set to entertain the crowds shortly after noon. This would be followed by a military parade and special performances to congratulate the president, before lunch is served shortly afterwards.

A music concert involving some local artists will then entertain the crowds. The day's events will culminate in a cocktail function and a special concert at the Monte Casino in the evening.