Zuma inauguration to cost R75m

newspic49f544d0cf104 AFP President-in-waiting: ANC leader Jacob Zuma's inauguration to cost R75m. Photo: Independent Newsapapers
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  • By Vivian Warby and Louise Flanagan

    The inauguration ceremony planned to celebrate ANC leader Jacob Zuma becoming the country's third democratically elected president will carry a price tag of R75-million.

    The event at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on May 9 will see heads of state, MPs, newly-elected premiers, presiding officers of Parliament, diplomats, bodies such as the UN, African Union and Southern African Development Community, as well as the cream of local and international business and community leaders, descend on the city, according to government spokesperson Themba Maseko.

    He said it would be "quite a huge affair. Considering the global financial situation, finances have been capped for it, but we are certainly going to be putting on a glittering event."

    The R75-million budget comes from both the Department of Foreign Affairs and Department of Public Works. Foreign Affairs pays for inauguration costs under its protocol budget.

    The National Treasury's 2009 Estimates of National Expenditure has set aside R60-million for the event, while the Department of Public Works has allocated R15-million.

    This excludes any spending by police or security agencies, government communications, the Presidency or any other department on the event.

    Ex-president Thabo Mbeki's second inauguration in 2004 probably cost about the same, while his 1999 inauguration cost Foreign Affairs R43,3-million.

    Planning for Zuma's inauguration began months ago. In mid-January, tenders went out for the design, supply, erection, maintenance and removal of marquees. Two weeks later, another tender was issued for additional marquees.

    In February, tenders were issued for temporary security fencing; sound, audiovisual and electrical equipment; furniture and portable toilets; horticultural services and decorations; red-carpet runners and "gold rods"; as well as seating, tables and linen.

    The guest list for the formal inauguration ceremony is about 4 000-strong, said Maseko.

    The lawns below the Union Buildings will be packed with tens of thousands of ordinary South Africans, bused in to witness Zuma being sworn in.

    Those who can't attend will be able to watch live television broadcasts on any of the 100 big plasma screens to be erected across the country.

    The formal inauguration ceremony usually ends at midday. While the dignitaries and VIPs eat lunch, people on the lawns will be treated to a concert. The evening usually sees a gala event for the luminaries, hosted by the new president.

    Maseko said negotiations were still under way as to who would perform at the concert.

    However, it's expected the line-up will include some of the country's foremost musicians and pop stars.

    The government is keeping details of who has made it onto the guest list close to its chest.

    Maseko said yesterday it had yet to be finalised. However, it is understood that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has not been invited, and nor have leaders from Madagascar, Mauritania, Guinea-Bissau and Guinea.

    The Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, has also not cracked a nod as "he is not a head of state", said Maseko.

    The US embassy advised yesterday that, contrary to reports in the Sunday Times, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would not be attending in the place of President Barack Obama. The name of a US representative has yet to be announced.

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