Zuma’s inauguration kicks off at 4am

Johannesburg - From the dignitaries to the commoners, those who want to see President Jacob Zuma being sworn into office on Saturday should get to bed early tonight or catch it on TV.

The pomp and ceremony will kick off at 4am, when park-and-ride buses start transporting people to the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

Wellwishers raise their hands as the SAAF performs an aerial salute as President Jacob Zuma is sworn in as president of South Africa in Pretoria in 2009. Photo: Siphiwe Sibeko. Credit: REUTERS

About 4 500 invited guests need to be seated, as well as thousands of members of the public.

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

By 8am all guests and members of the public should be seated for a cultural programme that will include performances by Yvonne Chaka Chaka and Zahara.

At about 11am the swearing-in will start. Military helicopters and other aircraft will crisscross the skies of Tshwane in a co-ordinated flypast as Zuma takes the national salute and the anthem plays.

The official programme is expected to finish at about lunchtime, when all 4 500 guests will be transported to a venue beside the Union Buildings to have lunch. Road closures, increased police presence and zooming aircraft above the capital’s skyline started this morning.

The Department of International Relations and Co-operation said dignitaries from around 47 countries were expected at Saturday's inauguration ceremony at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

These are:

Seven former heads of state and government were expected to attend.

They were: Former Namibian president Sam Nujoma; former Tanzanian prime minister Salim Ahmed Salim and former president Benjamin Mkapa; former Botswana president Festus Mogae; former Zambian president Kenneth Kaunda; former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano; and former Nigerian vice president Atiku Abubakar.

Monyela said African Union commission chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who is Zuma's ex-wife, would attend the inauguration.

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon was invited but will be sending a representative.

There would also be representatives from the BRICS countries. They were: Brazilian Vice President Michel Temer; Indian outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh; Chinese Minister of Civil Affairs Li Liguo; and Russian chairman of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly Sergey Naryshkin.

According to the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), there are 45 public viewing sites across the country, while proceedings will be carried live on television and radio. The GCIS said over 1 100 members of the media had applied for accreditation for the event, but only 100 journalists could be accommodated in the amphitheatre. Three hundred journalists will be put up in a tent on the Southern Lawns and will receive broadcast feeds.

According to reports, artists performing at the inauguration include Zahara, Mafikizolo, Yvonne Chaka Chaka, Claire Johnston, of Mango Groove fame, DJ Oskido and Kurt Darren.

Speculation has surfaced that the bash is costing R120 million after the amount emerged in the documentation tabled as part of the Budget at the end of February. In 2009 the ceremony cost R75 million.

While the government did not want to divulge the cost, Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane this week said it would be less than in 2009 “because of the austerity measures being implemented by the cabinet”.

This week the Union Buildings were a hive of activity as garden crews were cutting the lawns, trimming plants and cleaning flower beds and rehearsals took place.

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

Tshwane City spokesman Blessing Manale said several streets would be blocked off from 6am on Friday morning.

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

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

Expectations are that Zuma will announce his cabinet on Sunday.

The Star and Sapa