In what has been termed the glitziest of all inaugurations since 1994, Jacob Zuma will be sworn in as the country’s fourth post-apartheid president at a glittering function at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
But, even though organisers promise it will be "the mother of all inaugurations", the R75-million price tag is only a little more than it cost for the 2004 inauguration of Thabo Mbeki.Government spokesperson Themba Maseko said this week that the global financial crisis meant costs had to be capped. But that didn’t mean the inauguration wasn’t going to have flair, South African flavour and world-class razzmatazz.
The theme of this year’s inauguration is "Together celebrating a vibrant democracy and building a better life for all", and all the stops will be pulled out to ensure it is an occasion to remember.
The R75m cost covers infrastructure, the venue for the concert and the luminaries’ evening dinner, as well as hotel accommodation for heads of state.
For US President Obama’s inauguration earlier this year, which cost $75 million (R630m), the biggest expense went on law enforcement, communication, transport and emergency services. Zuma’s inauguration tag does not include security costs, which are set to run into millions as the country is graced with international heads of state.
Foreign Affairs spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa said security for the dignitaries would be in the state’s hands. Officials, mainly at ministerial level, have been assigned for meet-and-greets with the heads of state.
In 1994, the who’s who of the world arrived in South Africa for Nelson Mandela’s inauguration.This year will see many heads of state, royalty and other high-profile dignitaries descend on the country to witness the swearing-in of Zuma.
Mandela has been invited, but it has not been confirmed yet whether he will be there. He has, however, been seen at a few ANC functions in recent times, most notably at the ANC’s final election rally in Ellis Park last month.Mbeki has been invited. His spokesperson, Mukoni Ratshitanga, confirmed he will be attending.
Mamoepa said the Department of Foreign Affairs was still collating and receiving the names of invited guests who had accepted.Earlier this week, controversy arose as to whether the prime minister of Zimbabwe, Morgan Tsvangirai, had been invited. But Mamoepa said only heads of state and governments had been invited.
"If they can’t make it they are at liberty to send someone to represent them," said Mamoepa.
Minister in the Presidency Manto Tshabalala-Msimang said that on May 9, the president-elect would take an oath of office in the presence of heads of state and government, including invited guests, presided over by the Chief Justice and head of the Constitutional Court, Pius Langa. It is not known in which languages Zuma will take the oaths. In 2004, Mbeki said his in English, Afrikaans and Setswana.
Zuma will be joined on stage by the SANDF generals and South African Police Service commissioners.After taking the oath, he will observe a guard of honour as commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces to acknowledge the national salute – which is a flight by South African Air Force helicopters and Astra aircraft as well as a 21-round gun salute by the SANDF.
There will also be a mass fly-past by military aircraft.On the Union Buildings lawns, 30 000 members of the public, many bused in, will watch the event.After the inauguration, they will be treated to a cultural programme, with a number of artists lined up.
In the various provinces, big screens will allow people to follow the celebrations. The event will also be broadcast live.Dignitaries will enjoy a special luncheon with the new president.
In the evening, festivities move to Montecasino in Fourways, where artists such as Jonas Gwangwa, Oliver Mtukudzi, Lira and African Footprint will entertain guests.