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SONA red carpet rolled out

MPs have already started arriving at the parliamentary precinct.

The red carpet is being prepared outside Parliement in Cape Town ahead of State of the Nation Address on 13 February 2014. Picture: Siyabonga Sesant/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The red carpet has been rolled out for Thursday evening's State of the Nation Address (SONA) in Parliament.

Members of Parliament (MPs), Cabinet ministers, dignitaries and invited guests will make their way down the red carpet this afternoon ahead of President Jacob Zuma's speech at 7pm.

The red carpet extends from one end of Parliament to another.

A man wearing blue overalls has been making his way up and down the carpet with a leaf blower to ensure everything is perfect when guests arrive.

Workers are carefully paying attention to details.

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

But before they go inside, the national anthem will be played.

This will be followed by a traditional 21-gun salute and flyover over by the South African Air Force.

A praise singer will then lead the president into the National Assembly chamber where he will deliver his speech.

THE SPEECH

MPs have already started arriving at the parliamentary precinct.

Speculation about what Zuma will say and what he won't say is running high.

The president will not be able to avoid addressing the wave of service delivery protests in communities across the country.

In his SONA in 2013, Zuma warned protesters against using violence.

So far this year, several protesters have lost their lives, allegedly at the hands of police.

Zuma will want to reassure South Africans that his government has a plan to solve these problems.

While the country has made massive strides under the ANC in the past 20 years, trust in the government appears to have been eroded.

STATE OF FASHION

Evening gowns, bright colours and even animal print have been spotted on the red carpet.

Women wearing eastern-themed beaded dresses were also spotted.

DA Parliamentary Leader Lindiwe Mazibuko is wearing a silvery-white floor length dress.

She smiled as photographers took pictures of her.

Wearing a beaded green dress, Western Cape Premier Helen Zille strolled down the red carpet.

She says she hopes Zuma uses his address this evening to unveil a plan to grow the economy.

"I hope the president is bold and makes a speech about how we can grow this economy so that we can get more jobs for people. That's what we need tonight."

To view road closures around Cape Town click here.

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