Pretoria - Government will break away from tradition by hosting the inauguration of the next President of the Republic of South Africa at Loftus Versfeld instead of the Union Buildings.
The Presidency has confirmed that the ceremony will take place at the home of the Vodacom Bulls following the May 8 general elections.
The inauguration has taken place at the Union Buildings since the country’s first democratically-elected president Nelson Mandela took the oath of office in 1994.
But this year, the inauguration has been moved to the nearby 51 762-seater stadium, also used by Absa Premiership side Mamelodi Sundowns together with the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville.
The momentous occasion to inaugurate the president-elect has been scheduled for May 25.
While the official election day is May 8, the results are expected to be declared by May 12.
“Hosting this year’s inauguration in a stadium, the largest in Tshwane, will allow for greater public participation in this important national event on May 25,” presidential spokesperson Khusela Diko said.
The change of inauguration venue followed a decision by President Cyril Ramaphosa's ANC administration that the event should reach thousands of people.
It then sought the largest venue in the capital.
Loftus ticked all the boxes, as it is located centrally towards the east of the city. It lies just under 2km south-east of the Union Buildings, where the office of the president is situated, and 3km east of the CBD.
“May 25 is publicly observed as Africa Day. Therefore, this year the government will reaffirm its commitment to improving the African agenda and also strengthen ties between South Africa and its neighbours,” Diko said.
She added that those who would be attending the event included religious representatives, political parties, representatives from various international bodies such as the UN, AU and Southern African Development Community.
Blue Bulls spokesperson Shanil Mangaroo said they were honoured that their home ground had been chosen as the venue for such an important event.
Mangaroo said every employee at the stadium believed it was the perfect venue for the inauguration of the next state president.
“It is a massive privilege and an honour to host this year's inauguration of the president-elect. We are ecstatic about it and are certain that our venue was chosen because of the professionalism portrayed by each and every employee in the stadium.
“Therefore, we will continue to render the best service because to us having audiences leave our premises in a happy state is top of our priorities at all times.”
The theme of this year's inauguration ceremony is, "Together Celebrating 25 years of Freedom: Renewal and Growth for a better South Africa”.
Meanwhile, the government has called on South Africans to reflect on the 25 years of freedom and democracy by commemorating Freedom Month with pride.
Citizens are encouraged to join the conversation on social media and share messages and memories of the 25 years of freedom and democracy using the hashtags #FreedomMonth and #MyFreedomSA. Participants have also been encouraged to celebrate the nation’s achievements, leading up to the general election.
Keneiloe Ndlovu, 23, of Hammans- kraal, who will be voting for the first time this year, said she was excited. “My vote could be the deciding vote that decides whether or not the current government continues to govern or if a new party will take over South Africa.
“As a young black person in South Africa, every day is a conversation for me; from my culture and ethnicity to being a female trying to climb up the corporate ladder faced with social issues and cultures in the work space.”
Acting government communications head Phumla Williams said during this month, South Africans were encouraged to work together to realise a socially integrated and inclusive country.
Wlliams said Freedom Month afforded South Africans the opportunity to make a pledge towards fighting the legacy of racism and economic inequality as well as renewing their loyalty to the country and a commitment to its future.