Usual pomp and ceremony for Opening of Parliament

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The South African National Defence Force is deployed in Cape Town this afternoon to take part in the annual Opening of Parliament this evening. Speaker Max Sisulu says the military and police will provide a mounted escort, while the route that the President takes will be lined by personnel from the various Services.

The National Ceremonial Guard will provide a Guard of Honour and conduct a national salute along with the SA Military Health Service Band while the Cape Field Artillery, a Reserve Force regiment, will fire a 21-round gun salute. Four Pilatus PC7 MkII aircraft will conduct a simultaneous salute flight.

The opening ceremonies are to be followed by President Jacob Zuma delivering his third State of the Nation Address to the people of South Africa tonight at 7pm. Bloomberg, the US business news service, reports Zuma may unveil measures to tackle unemployment, considered by many as South Africa’s top challenge. “Jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs are going to be at the top of the state-of-the-nation speech agenda,” Gwede Mantashe, secretary- general of the ruling African National Congress, told reporters in Johannesburg on Tuesday. “Employment creation has suffered a setback because of the economic meltdown.”

The unemployment rate stood at 24% for the final three months of last year. When those who are too discouraged to seek work are taken into account, the figure rises to 35.8%, according to Stats SA, the state statistics office. Zuma pledged to make job creation a top priority on taking office in May 2009. His failure to deliver on those promises may cost the ANC votes in local government elections that must be held by mid-year. Zuma may announce the date for the vote today.



Pic: The SAMHS band parades