Union Buildings bustles with activity

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Union Buildings - There is a hive of activity around the Union Buildings as staff and street vendors got an early start, even as the darkness was lifting over Pretoria this morning.

Well before 4am, as the early winter chill was setting in, food vendors had already set up their tables with pots, fervently boiling stews and making Magwinya (vetkoeks) to feed the masses, who are expected to witness the inauguration of President-elect Jacob Zuma today.

Many guests and journalists had arrived by 5am, having gathered at Rietendale Park to be bussed to the inauguration venue.

Security officials also had an early start, lining the deserted streets of the city and keeping a watchful eye.

Last-minute preparations were underway, testing of microphones and other broadcasting equipment.

The government has budgeted at least R75 million for the festivities, which will include a music concert featuring local artists on the lawns of the Union Buildings from 1pm.

Crowds in excess of 30 000 are expected to attend the celebrations - not including an estimated 5 000 invited guests consisting of 29 Heads of State, prime ministers, ministerial delegations, a king and thousands of supporters.

Entertainment is expected to kick off at 7am, with the first invited guests expected to start arriving from 9:30am.

The induction itself starts at 11am, with Chief Justice Pius Langa administering the oath for Mr Zuma's five years in the highest office.

Mr Zuma, on becoming South Africa's newest President, will deliver his inaugural address at noon.

Thereafter he is expected to walk down the stairs and onto the stage below at the south lawns to speak to the thousands of people expected to gather for his inauguration.

The crowds will then be treated to the music of different local artists and cultural dances, while invited guests will move to Bryntirion Estate for a lunch with Mr Zuma.

And to end the big day, the luminaries will be treated to a night concert. Monte Casino, in Johannesburg, will play host to a cultural programme, where artists such as Jonas Gwangwa, Oliver Mtukudzi, Lira and African Footprint will provide their entertainment.