Parliament rolls out red carpet

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sona banners INLSA Edwin Fabe puts up a banner in preparation for the opening of Parliament. Picture Jeffrey Abrahams

 Parliament, Cape Town - Final touches were being made on Thursday afternoon to spruce up Parliament for President Jacob Zuma's 2013 state-of-the-nation address.

A red carpet was being rolled out along Parliament Street, with dozens of police officers looking on.

Some MPs arrived in buses from the parliamentary villages around Cape Town earlier in the day and went to their offices. Some disappeared into the buildings on the precinct with either dresses or suits wrapped in plastic slung over their shoulders.

Democratic Alliance MP Sandy Kalyan wore jeans and a simple top.

Asked whether this would be her attire for the day, she replied: “No, I have a silk sari from India styled from my stylist from India.”

Journalists and photographers were camped out near the steps of the National Assembly, waiting to get a glimpse of guests and the fashions that would be on display later in the day.

Many of the administrative staff would miss the festivities, after they were sent home at 1pm.

The official event would only start after 5pm.

Zuma was expected to arrive in the city centre accompanied by a mounted police escort and a military ceremonial motor escort.

SA National Defence Force (SANDF) members would line the route from the CBD into Parliament.

There would be a 21-gun salute, the ceremonial guard of the SANDF, a military band, and a fly-by by the SA Air Force.

Zuma would be greeted by a junior guard of honour (comprising high school pupils), a civil guard of honour (comprising representatives of civil society organisations), and eminent persons (nominated by provincial speakers from the nine provinces).

Former presidents, deputy presidents, and speakers, as well as the country's VIPs and celebrities would be in attendance.

Zuma is due to start his speech at 7pm. - Sapa



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