National

Bedazzled red carpet for Sona 2014

Sapa

The red carpet in the parliamentary precinct lit up with colour as MPs and invited guests dazzled with their glamorous and not-so-glamorous outfits.

Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, dressed in a lime-green, beaded ballgown, arrived on the carpet with her husband Johann Maree. (David Harrison, M&G)

The red carpet in the parliamentary precinct lit up with colour on Thursday as MPs, parliamentary staff and invited guests dazzled with their glamorous and not-so-glamorous outfits.

Parliamentary staffer Mamesi Kekana caught the eye of the dozens of photographers gathered outside the Old Assembly building. She wore a red and black traditional Seswati dress. The scene mirrored that of the Oscars with Kekana posing and smiling proudly for the cameras. "This is a called an apron in Seswati. The lining is goatskin, which is rare since many people don't farm with goats anymore," Kekana said. Fibre, usually used for hairbraids, hung down the apron. "This is a married Swazi woman's attire," she said.

The men were less colourful, opting for black or blue suits with simple ties.

Democratic Alliance spokesperson Mmusi Maimane, dressed in a formal suit accompanied Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille, who wore a simple white suit with a colourful blouse. "It's local. It's House of Monatic. I had it specially made," De Lille said.

DA Parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko was among the first guests to feature on Twitter pics. She wore a silver-grey dress, reportedly designed by Kat van Duinen, which was tight-fitting at the top, flaring out at the bottom with a trail.

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe did not know the origin of his suit. "I don't buy suits. I get given suits," Mantashe said.

"I don't know the difference between local and imported."

Poses
ANC MP Faith Bikani looked striking and had to do a few model-like twirls and poses as the demand for pictures of her south-east Asian bright pink and green dress grew.

Asked about her choice, Bikani said: "My outfit is Asian in recognition of our Indian counterparts' contribution to the struggle of South Africa."

An ANC MPL from Polokwane, Clarah Digkale, wore a bright orange dress to "stand out for the people of my province". She said the dress was made by a jobless seamstress, and was definitely local.

Dikgale's guest, Mercy Legong, chose a bright blue-layered dress showing off her toned figure, with a matching cloth draped like a hat on her head. "I work with kids so I wanted to wear bright colours to stand out for them," she said, explaining the inspiration behind her attire.

Mzo Daphule, who works in the precinct, decided to style it up ANC style. He wore a simple green cloth, ornately draped around one shoulder with an ANC badge attached. The bottom half of his tight white pants were adorned in the colours of his party. "It's the ANC that inspired the outfit. It's my own design, it's my own thinking," he said.

Parliament's Justice Portfolio Committee chairperson Lluwellyn Landers, dressed in his usual suit and tie, tried unsuccessfully to slip into the Old Assembly building behind the cameras. "I'm not into all this," he said. "The speech is what's important."

Cheers
Public protector Thuli Madonsela looked like a Hollywood actress in a dazzling, full-length golden gown and was met with cheers and dozens of camera clicks. She explained the dress made her feel free-spirited.

Parliament's arts and culture portfolio committee chairwoman, Thandile Sunduza, followed soon afterwards, replacing the golden glow with a banana yellow.

She struggled to hide her baby bump in a strapless short dress which she had designed herself. "I'm seven months pregnant. If you ask who's the father, I don't know," she joked before moving off.

Many mistook Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba for a South African Airways pilot in his dark suit with gold epaulettes and a captain's hat. He saluted photographers before making his way into the National Assembly.

ANC MP Thandi Kenye looked like a modern-day Cinderella in a turquoise dress with a lace pattern and silver shoes with glass heels. She seemed to love the media attention and turned her back to the cameras so they could get a different angle. "It's 20 years of democracy. That's why I am so beautiful," she said.

DA MP Denise Robinson was more demure in a navy blue and red dress, and batted her eyelids from underneath a red flower and strings of beads draping one side of her face.

Spirit
Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande and his wife Phumelele Ntombela-Nzimande also wore red, keeping the pre-Valentine's Day spirit alive. She clung to him tightly in her draping leopard print dress.

Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, dressed in a lime-green, beaded ballgown, arrived on the carpet with her husband Johann Maree. The pair were glued at the hip and he gave her a peck on the cheek when goaded to do so by photographers.

Asked what their plans were for Valentine's Day on Friday, she said: "We're going to have a good time. We've been married for 31 years." – Sapa

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