It’s all systems go for Zuma’s big gig

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President Jacob Zuma with his wife Sizakele Khumalo at the Nelson Mandela Amphitheatre at the Union Buildings on Thursday for the briefing on preparations for the inauguration. Pictures: Siyabulela Duda

Pretoria - The inauguration of Jacob Zuma for a second term as president is taking centre stage in Pretoria this weekend with top dignitaries, VIPs, VVIPs and thousands of people expected to converge on the city.

Marked by road closures, an increased police presence and zooming aircraft above the capital’s skyline, the Union Buildings will be the centre of the events.

Zuma will be sworn into office by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng at the Nelson Mandela Amphitheatre at the Union Buildings tomorrow in front of heads of state, kings, international politicians and local luminaries.

Residents have been warned to expect road closures across the city as part of the activities.

City spokesman Blessing Manale said several streets would be closed, but construction of the Bus Rapid Transit A Re Yeng would not be halted.

Streets that will be closed are those around the Union Buildings, and most of the closures will last until Monday.

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Road closures started on Wednesday when Wessels Street between Pretorius and Stanza Bopape Street was closed.

Manale said the closures would also affect taxi and bus routes on Friday.

The city will transport residents keen to be part of the inauguration event to the Union Buildings.

Eighty buses will carry people from the Tshwane Events Centre to the Union Buildings free on Saturday morning.

The Union Buildings are a hive of activity with less than 24 hours to go before Zuma steps on to the inaugural podium in the amphitheatre to take his oath of office.

South Africans around the country will witness him being sworn in tomorrow and giving his acceptance speech.

This week garden crews were cutting the lawns, trimming plants and cleaning flower beds, with in the background a group of artists rehearsing.

Yvonne Chaka Chaka and Zahara, who carried out a public dress rehearsal and sound checks on the big stage at the Southern Lawns, attracted a crowd of about 200 people.

When Zahara sang one of her popular songs – her latest tribute to Madiba called Nelson Mandela – the enthusiastic crowd broke out in song and dance.

The construction of the inaugural stage at the Nelson Mandela amphitheatre is nearly complete and workers were putting on the final touches on Thursday.

Current and former heads of state who have been invited are expected to start arriving in the country from Friday.

Police visibility at the Union Buildings has been beefed up.

Security is expected to be tight on Saturday.

Military helicopters and other aircraft have been criss-crossing the skies of Tshwane in preparation for a co-ordinated fly-past as Zuma takes the national salute and the anthem plays.

The inauguration is expected to attract thousands of people. They will be accommodated on the Southern Lawns.

ROAD CLOSURES

* From 6am on Friday until 7pm on Sunday

Government Street between Edmond Street and Blackwood Street.

Madiba Street between Zeederberg Street and Stanza Bopape Street.

* From 10pm on Friday night until 7pm on Sunday:

Edmond Street between Hamilton Street and Government Street.

Madiba Street between Hamilton Street and Zeederberg Street.

Zeederberg Street between Stanza Bopape Street and Madiba Street.

Government Street between Blackwood Street and Dumbarton Street.

Blackwood Street between Stanza Bopape Street and Government Street.

Pine Street between Stanza Bopape Street and Government Street.

Beckett Street between Stanza Bopape Street and Government Street.

East Avenue between Stanza Bopape Street and Government Street.

Eastwood Street between Stanza Bopape Street and Tom Jenkins Drive.

Lisdogan Avenue between Stanza Bopape Street and Government Street.

Balmoral Avenue between Stanza Bopape Street and Government Street.

Dumbarton Street between Stanza Bopape Street and Government Street.

Tom Jenkins Drive between Russel Street and Eastwood Street.

* From midnight until 7pm on Sunday

Hamilton Street between Soutpansberg Road and Pretorius Street.

Stanza Bopape Street between Steve Biko Street and Jan Shoba Street.

Madiba Street between Steve Biko Street and Hamilton Street.

Edmond Street between Steve Biko Street and Hamilton Street.

Leyds Street between Pretorius Street and Stanza Bopape Street.

Johan Street between Pretorius Street and Stanza Bopape Street.

Beckett Street between Pretorius Street and Stanza Bopape Street.

Eastwood Street between Pretorius Street and Stanza Bopape Street.

Wessels Street between Francis Baard Street and Park Street.

Pretoria News


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