Union Buildings bustle with activity

2004-04-27 08:19
Pretoria - As the sun rose over Pretoria on Tuesday, there was a bustle of activity at the Union Buildings ahead of the official inauguration of South Africa's third democratically-elected president, Thabo Mbeki, and the simultaneous celebration of ten years of freedom.

Many guests and journalists had arrived by 05:00, having gathered at SuperSport Park in Centurion from 02:00 to be bussed to the inauguration venue.

Security officials also had an early start, lining the deserted streets of the city and keeping a watchful eye over the proceedings.

Last-minute preparations were underway, with the cleaning of windows, vacuuming of carpets, testing of microphones and other broadcasting equipment.

The government has budgeted some R90m for the festivities, which would culminate in a music concert featuring some 200 artists on the lawns from 14:00 to 19:00.

Some 40 000 people were expected to attend the celebrations - not including an estimated 6 000 invited guests. Some 40 presidents and royalty, 10 prime ministers and 43 ministerial delegations have been billed to attend.

Entertainment was due to start at 07:00, with the first invited guests expected to start arriving from 08:30.

The induction itself starts at 10:00, with Chief Justice Arthur Chaskalson administering the oath for Mbeki's second term of office.

This would be followed by a military salute, air display and a national salute, before Mbeki was to address the nation from 10.45.

The programme would end with lunch before the concert gets underway.

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