Inauguration to cost millions

Cape Town - The glittering show the government is to stage on April 27 to mark the inauguration of South Africa's new president and celebrate the tenth year of the country's democracy will cost at least R60m.

This amount is for the inauguration only. According to the organisers, tens of millions more have been set aside for other celebration events on the day and later in the year.

Briefing the media at parliament on Thursday, Carl Niehaus, chief organiser of the "10 years of Freedom Celebrations", said a further R80m had been made available, half in this financial year, and half in 2004/05.

He said celebrations were planned for other important national holidays, such as Youth Day on June 16, commemorating the Soweto uprisings.

Niehaus was not able to say what percentage of the R80m would be spent on the April 27 (Freedom Day) celebrations.

"We still finalising budgets and signing contracts."

He said R60m had been set aside for the inauguration.

"If you look at past inaugurations, this is the amount that has been spent ... with slight adjustments for inflation."

Minister in the Office of the President Essop Pahad said invitations would be sent to 180 countries.

"Our wish is that they all come, but of course this will not happen, so we will see how many come."

'All-embracing'

He said the department of foreign affairs was finalising a list of celebrity guests, who would also be invited.

"We are looking at people who have made a significant contribution to the anti-apartheid movement... to say thank you to those who supported us."

He said prominent South Africans from the business world, trade union movements and civil society would also be invited.

Pahad said government had signed a contract with the company Creative Collective - which includes prominent artists Hugh Masekela, Sibongile Khumalo, Anant Singh and Mbongeni Ngema - to organise the Freedom Day concert.

"They will work in a way that is all-embracing, to ensure a sufficiently broadbased event to showcase South Africa's talent."

There was also a possibility of Jamaican artists Jimmy Cliff and Rita Marley coming to South Africa to perform.

"We have had an offer from Jamaica about a tour of artists, including Jimmy Cliff and Rita Marley. We have supported this initiative. We hope they succeed... it will demonstrate the breadth of own struggle, but also our relationship with the diaspora."

Special composition

Award-winning composer Jonas Gwangwa was also working on a special composition to mark President Thabo Mbeki's second term of office.

"Gwangwa is more confident than I that President Mbeki will be re-elected. But I suppose if President Mbeki is not re-elected, he can go record it in a studio somewhere."

Gwangwa composed the theme music of South Africa's Olympic bid in 1997.

Husband-and-wife team Caiphus Semenya and Letta Mbulu were also creating a special composition to mark the tenth year of democracy.

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