Only the sound of footsteps of people on their way to work broke the eerie silence on streets surrounding Parliament on Thursday morning.
This was as several roads and walkways were closed and fenced off on Wednesday evening in preparation for President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Thursday evening.
There was a strong police presence throughout the city centre, but no sign of SA National Defence Force soldiers yet.
On Tuesday Zuma signed an order for the deployment of 441 soldiers to the opening of Parliament. The deployment follows intelligence reports which suggested massive unrest and the erection of shacks as a symbolic protest at Sona.
A removal company has allegedly already been appointed in anticipation of the protest.
On Queen Victoria Street next to the Company’s Garden on Thursday morning police said that no photos were allowed. “We will confiscate your phone,” an officer said.
SaveSA banners at St George’s Cathedral were taken down, allegedly in an effort to protect them against vandalism.The organisation hosted its “real State of the Nation Address” in Cape Town on Wednesday.
Its convener Sipho Pityana blasted Zuma at the event, saying the country had “absolutely lost confidence” in his ability to lead.
“You have set the promising steps of your predecessors back many years,” Pityana told hundreds of people at the event. “Under your leadership, all their gains have been reversed, and now look at the mess you’ve plunged our country in.
“Please don’t invite us to your altar of fools by promising you will do better tomorrow [at Sona]. All you have left to offer us now is the word ‘radical’, which means absolutely nothing.” – News24