Despite the ring of full metal jacket ball ammunition thrown around the parliamentary precinct on Wednesday, life appeared to go on as normal for the residents of Cape Town.
Rain failed to materialise as usual, a parched Table Mountain caught fire again – luckily, it was a small fire – and the traffic remained a confusing snarl-up.
The traffic jam was only made worse when access to roads around and adjacent to parliament were closed for the army honour guard to put in a final practice before this evening’s State of the Nation address by President Jacob Zuma.
Overhead, a helicopter thudded lazily through the heat-thinned air, while police sirens shrieked as blue-light conveys hurried their cargo away from the endless questions from journalists.
Outside the Kimberly Hotel – one of Cape Town’s oldest bars – military police in high-visibility reflective jackets and traffic officials hid from the glare of the afternoon sun, eyeing punters sucking down their favourite brew, stopping traffic when the cannons for Zuma’s 21-gun salute went past at speed, barely raising a glance from passers-by.
The full implementation of road closures is available on The Citizen’s website – between 6am and Thursday midnight, do not expect to be able to drive too close to parliament.
Sanews.gov.za reported on Wednesday a temporary stage on the stairs of the National Assembly had been set up and carpenters were busy applying the final touches.
The stage, which will be covered by the red carpet on Thursday, is where the president will be joined by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, among other dignitaries, to observe the traditional 21-gun salute ahead of Thursday’s speech.
The red carpet will extend from the stairs of the National Assembly down to the entrance of the Old Assembly building, where VIPs will enter.
The address will be broadcast live on more than 80 community radio stations around the country.
The ceremony will be covered by 730 accredited journalists from various local and international media houses.
Additional reporting by sanews.gov.za