Johannesburg - It's all systems go for Saturday’s inauguration of President Cyril Ramaphosa at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, where thousands of South Africans and international guests will witness the president ascend to the highest office in the land.
But looming large at the ceremony will be the question of who Ramaphosa will announce as his deputy on Sunday, after David Mabuza postponed his swearing-in as an MP, sparking speculation that Higher Education Minister Naledi Pandor or former AU Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma will be the second-in-command.
Phumla Williams, acting director-general of the Government Communication and Information System, on Thursday said the switch from hosting the inauguration at the Union Buildings to the 52 000- seater home of the Vodacom Bulls rugby team was designed to allow members of the public to witness the historic occasion.
“The inauguration has always taken place in the administrative capital but we’ve tried to look at how best we can make sure we have everybody in one centre. It’s much more inclusive this time.
“At previous inaugurations, people would be on the southern lawns of the Union Buildings while the other group would be at the Nelson Mandela Amphitheatre, which means that they would only be able to see everything on the big screens.
“Once the president has been sworn in, he travels to the lawns to go and greet people, but on Saturday, everything is going to be seen by everybody at the same time,” Williams said. About 32 000 people are expected to converge on Loftus, with an additional 4 500 VIP guests, including Cabinet ministers and their deputies, MPs, provincial premiers, MECs and mayors. Of the 32 000 public seats, 10 000 will be accredited walk-ins and the other 22 000 will come from North West, Free State, Limpopo, Gauteng and Mpumalanga.
“For security reasons we will not announce heads of state (who will attend) until they have landed. We have also invited representatives from regions of the continent and the AU,” Williams said.
Police Minister Bheki Cele said potential troublemakers would have to deal with a security complement of 2 557 members. He was at the stadium to address and inspect a law enforcement parade prior to the inauguration.
Members of the SAPS, metro police and other security personnel will be deployed to ensure efficient route and stadium security. The National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure has put together a comprehensive plan to ensure the smooth running of the event. Cele said the police were more than ready for the big day.
“In fact, the SAPS have been working since May 8 during the elections; they are just continuing where they left off, and are doing a brilliant job,” said Cele. He outlined a massive deployment of officers, particularly to the “hotspot” areas around the precinct. “We know where the trouble areas are, but I don’t want to divulge too much for obvious reasons. We are well prepared,” he said.
Cele said the change of venue had had minimal impact on the police's preparations.
“The inauguration will be graced by several heads of state and thousands of South Africans. Therefore, effective and efficient security of this event is paramount,” said Cele.
Stadium entry times, park and ride, restrictions
The gates to the stadium will open at 3am on Saturday and those attending are urged to arrive early to ensure the smooth flow of people and traffic.
The airspace from the Pretoria city centre will be restricted for a radius of 25 nautical miles from 8am to 4pm for the day.
No remotely piloted air systems or drones will be permitted to operate within the airspace for the duration of the event. This restriction will not affect commercial air traffic.
There will be a park-and-ride system for general access to the stadium from the Tshwane Events Centre. The shuttles will operate from 3am to 6.30am.
All the walk-ins for general access to the stadium must still be accredited through the accreditation service point at the Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool, popularly known as Affies. This accreditation point will open from 3am and closes at 7am, and nobody will be allowed into the venue without accreditation.