President Cyril Ramaphosa. File photo: Elmond Jiyane/GCIS.

PRETORIA - The inter-ministerial committee planning the presidential inauguration on Thursday said all heads of state and governments of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have been invited to witness the "auspicious occasion" when the incoming president of South Africa will be sworn-in on May 25.

"The guests also include representatives from the continental regional economic blocks, former liberation movements, fraternal countries, the African Union, United Nations, members of the diplomatic corps and eminent persons and former presidents of the Republic. We have limited the invitation to the heads of state in line with our cost-cutting measures," Minister in the Presidency Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

"Four-thousand-five-hundred guests have been invited from various sectors of society, including parliamentarians, the judiciary, ministers and deputy ministers, premiers, [members of the executive councils] MECs and executive mayors. We have also invited members of the diplomatic corps, religious sector, etc."

Dlamini-Zuma said on the cost-cutting measure, the inauguration will cost over R100 million less than the previous inauguration which ushered in the fifth administration led by former president Jacob Zuma.

The pomp and ceremony will coincide with Africa Day, where the continent celebrates the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity, which later evolved to be the African Union. The inauguration also comes at a time when South Africa is celebrating 25 years of freedom.

She said that they expected close to 32,000 people to attend including 10,000 walk-ins. For the first time in South African history, the inauguration will be held at Loftus Versfeld Stadium instead of the Union Buildings.

"We chose the stadium because it is more cost effective compared to using the Union Buildings, which carries high preparation costs, in particular, the preparation of the Nelson Mandela Amphitheatre. In line with the government austerity measures, we were happy to go with a least costly option," she said.

Dlamini-Zuma said the stadium will be opened from 3am in the morning and the programme will be co-directed by the Speaker of the fifth parliament Baleka Mbete, and the deputy secretary-general of the governing African National Congress Jessie Duarte. 

"The official programme will start at 10:55am with the arrival of the president-elect, followed by inter-faith prayers led by the Chaplain General. The president-elect will take the oath of office as part of the swearing in ceremony performed by Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng and then proceed to sign the swearing-in certificate. Thereafter, the president will take up position for the National Salute," said Dlamini-Zuma.

After the rendition of the National Anthem; the President will address the nation.

The president's address will be followed by a flypast by South African Air Force and the South African Airways.

Information pertaining to road closures is still being finalised as the security team continues to work with relevant stakeholders to minimise the impact on residents and the general public.

African News Agency (ANA)