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Parliament abuzz ahead of SONA

President Jacob Zuma's address is set to begin at 7pm this evening.

Preparations underway for SONA 2014. Picture: GCIS

CAPE TOWN - Parliament is abuzz ahead of President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address ( SONA) on Thursday evening.

Members of Parliament (MPs), diplomats and dignitaries are expected to start arriving later in the afternoon.

The president's address is set to begin at 7pm.

Zuma will be reporting back to the nation as head of state and not as leader of the African National Congress (ANC).

But with South Africa headed for its most contested elections yet, he is likely to make the most of his time in the spotlight and speak directly to his constituency.

He recently polled the lowest of all ANC presidents so far.

Zuma's speech is an opportunity to persuade his detractors that he is the right man at the helm.

At the same time, officials are putting finishing touches inside and outside the Parliament precinct.

Streets surrounding the area are heavily guarded by police and security personnel are fine combing the parliamentary precinct while the red carpet is being rolled out on the steps of the National Assembly.

Several white marquees have been erected, where media houses are already conducting interviews.

Media organisations are battling a fresh South Easter while rigging up their equipment

Flags and banners are in place across the parliamentary compound.

Workers are feverishly sweeping the pathway leading into the National Assembly where the red carpet will be rolled out to welcome MPs and dignitaries.

WHAT TO EXPECT

MPs, Cabinet ministers, dignitaries and invited guests will walk the red carpet ahead of Zuma's address.

Shortly before 7pm, the president and his entourage will make their way to the National Assembly.

But before they go inside, the military band and the South African navy band will play the national anthem.

This is followed by a traditional 21-gun salute and a fly-over by the South African Air Force.

A praise singer will then lead the president into the National Assembly chamber before he takes to the podium.

To view Cape Town road closures click here.

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