Transcript Copy: Media Briefing by Director-General Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba on Preparations for the Inauguration, Media Centre, Union Buildings, Pretoria, Thursday 7 May 2009

We will focus on the inauguration in this briefing.  We are all aware that the inauguration is scheduled for Saturday 9 May 2009.  The actual ceremony is scheduled to last an hour between 11h00 and 12h00.  There will off course be a lot of activity in the amphitheatre beginning very early that morning.  Arrivals of some of the guests will begin around 07h00 in the morning.

Heads of State and government who will be attending are scheduled to arrive between 09h30 and 10h30 and off course, as is usually the tradition, they will be announced as they arrive so you will be aware of who has arrived.  After the official swearing in ceremony, the President will at 12h00 address the people who would have assembled on the southern lawns of the Union Buildings.  We anticipate that approximately 30000 people will have assembled on the southern lawns.  Arrangements have been made by the City of Tshwane to accommodate any possible spill over.  However, because of the area that is available, we anticipate that the City of Tshwane and the team working on the lawns will be ready to handle any situation that may arise from a greater number of people, than those anticipated.  All the preparations are proceeding very well.

From the southern lawns, the President will proceed to Bryntirion Estate where he will host a luncheon for all of the invited guests.  This is scheduled for approximately 13h30.  This will conclude the formal proceedings of the day.

There will be a cultural event in the evening at Montecasino in Johannesburg.

We are confident that everything that needs to be done is being done.  As you can see a final rehearsal is currently taking place at the amphitheatre.  Our assessment is that preparations are proceeding well.  The accreditation process of the guests began a few days ago and is also proceeding smoothly.

I have already indicated there will be a significant amount of people on the southern lawns and again, as is the tradition, approximately 5000 guests will be accommodated in the amphitheatre.

Regarding confirmed attendees, we have at this stage received confirmations that 29 countries will be represented by their heads of state and government.  The second category is that of representation by Deputy Presidents – here we have received 7 confirmations.

Countries that will be represented by a combination of Special Envoys and Foreign Ministers as well as Speakers of Parliament stands 56. 

The entire diplomatic corps accredited to South Africa has also been invited.

There is a further category of eminent persons – here we are expecting some of the former Heads of State in the region including former President Dr Kaunda, former President Chissano, former President Masire and so on.  Other important guest worth mentioning, include the Chairperson of the African Union Commission Jean Ping, the Secretary-General of SADC Dr Tomaz Salamao.  The Deputy Secretary General of the UN will also be attending.  The European Union Commission will also be represented by one of their commissioners – Baroness Ashton.  There are other prominent individuals – these are too numerous to mention.  There will also be representatives of fraternal parties who have been invited as part of the invitations extended by the ruling party – Frelimo, SWAPO, etc.  This is not an exhaustive list.

100 delegations have confirmed their attendance in addition to the diplomatic corps based in South Africa.  We are therefore very excited about the level of representation at the inauguration.

As you know, the theme of the inauguration is, “Together celebrating a vibrant democracy and building a better life for all.”  This Inauguration is a culmination of positive mood generated by the success of South Africa’s fourth democratic elections. It will also be a moment of great pride for the nation and an opportunity for celebration of our democratic values and system of governance.  We are trying to do everything possible to ensure this positive mood prevails.  This also provides us with an opportunity to thank many people across the globe who have shared both difficult and happy moments with South Africa.  Precisely because this an occasion of celebration of one in which appreciation is expressed to these friends in the international community, we are very keen that everything should move smoothly, beginning from the arrivals at OR Tambo International to departure.

There are other ceremonial aspects which are standard.  The Chief Justice will preside over the ceremony.  There will be a fly past, a guard of honour because the President is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.  The President will acknowledge the National Salute by the South African National Defence Force comprising a flight by 4 x SAAF helicopters and Astra Aircraft and 21 round gun salute.

Music will be rendered by the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra and the Soweto Gospel Choir.

The luncheon, as I have indicated will be hosted at Bryntirion Estate in Pretoria, in a series of marquees because one marquee will not be able to accommodate 5000 people.  The main marquee will accommodate 400 guests – this is where President Zuma will host his counterparts from other countries.

Questions and answers

Question DG, would you confirm whether the North Korean number 2 will attend the inauguration?  Will he attend only the inauguration or will he be hosted on an official visit?

Answer I’m sure that you will appreciate that no other official visits can be accommodated at this time – largely due to logistical reasons.  There is therefore no programme related to any representative from North Korea.

Question DG, the South Korean presidential envoy has indicated he will seek a meeting with the North Korean representative – are you aware of this?  Will you be facilitating such a meeting?  Are there other meetings scheduled on the fringes of the inauguration?

Answer We are not facilitating any meetings.  They have probably made their own arrangements.  I am not aware of any request addressed to the South African government in respect of the North Korea – South Korea issue.  We will deal with any requests should they arise.

At some point there was talk of possibly hosting a meeting around Madagascar since leaders of the region would be here.  Our sense is however that the practicalities around this, at this time would not make this very possible.  It will therefore be rescheduled and will take place later.

Question DG, since Foreign Affairs is co-ordinating invitations to foreign guests – in cases of Zimbabwe and Kenya, have you invited the heads of state and the heads of government?  When will they be arriving?

Answer Remember that Zimbabwe and Kenya are not the only countries where you have unity governments.  They are not the only countries where you have a President and a Prime Minister both with some executive powers.  A good example is Ethiopia – you are all aware that the Prime Minister is more active.  Inaugurations are largely ceremonial events and the invitations have therefore been extended to Heads of State.

In the case of Zimbabwe where we are facilitating discussions and are strongly supportive of the inclusive government, we have discussed the possibility of inviting some parties in the inclusive government.  This is being attended to as we speak.

Question DG, will President Zuma address the crowds on the southern lawns as well as the guests in the amphitheatre?

Answer Obviously the main address will be in the amphitheatre.  But he is expected to make comments on the lawns.  However, proceedings from the amphitheatre will be transmitted to the southern lawns.

Question DG, will President el-Bashir be attending?

Answer I can confirm that President el-Bashir will not be attending the inauguration.  The Unity Government in Khartoum will however be represented.

Question DG, there are indications of some protest against the attendance of President Mugabe.  How will you handle such a matter?

Answer In an event of this nature, there are requisite security arrangements that have to be in place.  I am not aware of any particular security arrangements around President Mugabe.

Question DG, there is a 30% prediction of rain – how will you handle this?  What plans are in place?

Answer (Acting DG of the Presidency –Trevor Fowler) We had to anticipate the possibility of rain and we have secured umbrellas so that people can be comfortable.  Blankets will also be available if it is cold.  We will endeavour to make it as comfortable as possible for guests.

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152

7 May 2009

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