Cape Town - In keeping with Valentine’s Day, red was very much in evidence at the opening of Parliament on Thursday night – from the red carpet entrance to the slinky red dresses many of the women opted for, while men brightened dark suits with red ties, jaunty handkerchiefs and even floral buttonholes.
Continuing South Africa’s afro-chic tradition, Rachel Tambo sported a Sun Goddess creation, designers she has worn most years to the opening of Parliament.
Tambo said her choice of the cerise frock was a “celebration of love” on Valentine’s Day.
“I’m wearing pink to celebrate our love,” she said, pointing to her husband, Dali, son of late ANC stalwart Oliver Tambo.
She said her ornate hat was traditional Zulu attire, while her dress was a mix of Xhosa-inspired designs.
“I’ve always loved Sun Goddess. I’m not just wearing one culture – it’s a mix, and that’s what our family’s about, what our nation is about.”
Ever the romantic, Dali said his signature black waistcoat with a red rose protruding from the lapel was symbolic of his merely playing a supporting role to Rachel.
“I’m just the stalk that carries the flower,” he said, gesturing towards a glowing Rachel.
ANC MP Nkosi Mandla Mandela, grandson of Nelson Mandela, wore traditional Xhosa dress and patiently posed for the cameras before entering the House.
Western Cape Premier Helen Zille wore aquamarine silk and lace with a matching ostrich-feather handbag.
Zille said she had chosen the colour as it was her husband’s favourite.
Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille wore navy satin pants, a cream blouse and a knitted navy top designed by Cape Town’s Malcolm Kluk.
Smuts Ngonyama of Cope and IFP MP Mario Oriani-Ambrosini were among those sporting red ties.
Oriani-Ambrosini arrived at Parliament alongside IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi, who brandished several large bunches of flowers purchased from the flower sellers in Adderley Street.
Buthelezi later presented the bouquets to woman cabinet ministers in the National Assembly, earning a hug from Public Service and Administration Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and applause from the House.
ANC national executive and national working committee member Lindiwe Zulu, also a former ambassador, said her outfit was “African urban”, made by her daughter, Phindile, a fashion designer.
The material used was Congolese, and Zulu said her “little top” (structured blouse) was the latest fashion on the rest of the African continent.
She said she and her daughter had been influenced by the fashion of Zulu’s grandmother, who had raised her in Swaziland.
Hues of blue and green were another favourite, with many gracing the red carpet in pastel colours ranging from emerald to cerise.
Among the dignitaries were guests from across the country, who looked astounded as politicians strutted down the red carpet.
Naledi Masinga of Philippi was among the schoolchildren who were part of the guard of honour.
The high school pupil said she had came to “serve her country” and listen to President Jacob Zuma’s plans for education.
Zuma made his way up the red carpet shortly before 7pm, accompanied by the presiding officers and wife MaKhumalo, wearing a pastel pink lacy dress, gold shoes and white fascinator. The group paused outside the National Assembly entrance for the national anthem, 21-gun salute and air force fly-past, before entering for Zuma to deliver his speech. - Cape Argus