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#Sona2016: Guests, dignitaries arrive to tight security

The parliamentary precinct is awash with police, while guests and MPs are being searched as they enter.

ANC MP Siphosezwe & his wife Ninini Masango arrive for the 2016 State of the Nation Address, 11 February. Picture: Aletta Harrison/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Final preparations are still underway inside the parliamentary precinct where Members of Parliament (MPs) and dignitaries have started to arrive.

Parliamentary workers have gone into overdrive as they ready the red carpet for MPs and dignitaries.

Several media houses have set up to get the best shots of the honourable members.

WATCH: Inside Parliament the red carpet's being rolled out. #Sona2016 SS pic.twitter.com/kiHCknVNZV

For the first time, everyone, including MPs are having their bags checked by security.

The parliamentary precinct is awash with police positioned to ensure proceeding go off without a hitch.

President Jacob Zuma will address the nation tonight with a ring of steel thrown around Parliament.

Reams of barbed wire have been laid to block access to some streets leading to parliament, while pavements are lined with steel security fencing.

Parliament is in virtual lockdown ahead of the State of the Nation Address (Sona).

Earlier, a group of people who were part of a protest in the city centre broke through police lines and charged up Plein Street towards Parliament - while a helicopter circled overhead.

WATCH: Ses'khona members break through police barrier

The Sona is usually a festive occasion marking the opening of the people's Parliament.

However, this year the mood is tense and somewhat sombre while the people, it seems, aren't welcome.

#SeskhonaMarch Police preventing protesters from getting close to Parliament building. SF pic.twitter.com/2xtMKgGpSG

OPPOSITION UNITED IN CALL FOR ZUMA TO STEP DOWN

President Jacob Zuma will address the nation amid a chorus of calls for him to do the honourable thing and step down.

Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane says that would be the most appropriate announcement he could make this evening.

United Democratic Movement (UDM) leader Bantu Holomisa agrees it's time for Zuma to go.

"Our energies must be directed towards the African National Congress, saying 'ANC recall your man, we never deployed him there - you deployed him'."

Former Congress of South African Trade Unions General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi's suggested that not only Zuma, but his entire Cabinet step down.

He says the ANC's national executive council should follow suit.

Neither Zuma nor his party are likely to heed these calls, but whether they intensify or diminish will depend on what the president has to say tonight.

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