Red carpet and riot police: SA's politicians dressed up to the nines as protesters and police clash nearby

By Kirstin Buick
09 February 2017

#SONA2017 is already shaping up to be an interesting one.

South Africa's politicians and their partners have pulled out all the stops for the State of the Nation Address this year, stepping on to the red carpet in all their finery. But just metres away, riot police pushed back protesters trying to make their way to Parliament. According to News24, the situation outside on the streets of Cape Town was becoming increasingly tense as pupils affiliated to Cosas try to make their way to Adderley Street where the EFF was protesting. Eventually police herded the young protesters the Grand Parade, where the ANC's People's Assembly is taking place.

Nearby, EFF supporters burned ANC T-shirts.
This didn't seem to ruffle feathers on the red carpet however, where several MPs stopped to speak to media about their choice in couture.
Mandla Mandela and his wife Rabia caused quite a stir, thanks to the mom-to-be's growing baby bump. Chief Zwelivelile and his wife of one year announced they were expecting their first child earlier this week. Read more: Royal baby on the way! Chief Mandela and wife Rabia expecting their first child

On Tuesday Zuma signed an order for the deployment of 441 soldiers to the opening of Parliament, but there was no sign of them as polictians filtered into parliament.

News24 earlier reported that the deployment follows intelligence reports which suggested massive unrest and the erection of shacks as a symbolic protest at SONA.

A removal company has allegedly already been appointed in anticipation of the protest.

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