Cape Town — The opening of Parliament in Cape Town was characterised by pomp and fanfare as it coincided with Valentine's Day.
Former president Thabo Mbeki and Zanele Mbeki, former Deputy Presidents Baleka Mbete and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, former President FW de Klerk and Elita de Klerk, and businesspeople were among the people who descended on parliament for the state of the nation address by the president.
Dali Tambo, son of the late political activist Oliver Tambo, clad in an immaculate black suit, said they were "celebrating Valentine's as well as the opening of Parliament by the president."
Western Cape Premier Hellen Zille, draped in a turquoise gown, said she was taking the opportunity to celebrate Valentine's Day with her husband Johann Maree while at the same time expecting the president to come up with practical measures against youth unemployment and boosting investor confidence.
Also ecstatic about the event was Congress of the People leader, Mosiuoa Patrick Lekota, although he complained that he had "spend the whole day at the airport trying to get into the plane". Asked about Valentine's Lekota said jokingly, "I think the president chose this day tactically".
Notable in their attire was the Democratic Alliance's Lindiwe Mazibuko in a striking black gown, while Kwaito star Arthur Mafokate and Chomie looked dashing in green.
The South African airforce flyover, national salute by the ceremonial guard, and the 21 gun salute created drama as the president arrived for the address whose theme was "Socio-economic development through oversight and public participation".