12 days with Zuma: A million miles away from the mundane

2011-05-12 13:18

Today the Commander-in-Chief (President Jacob Zuma) is in North West, working with communities and decision makers in Tswaing at De la Reville and Lichtenburg.

Team City Press, aeronautically disadvantaged until the evening, is temporarily grounded in Durban, catching its breath, filing, dumping its smelly socks and getting rid of that nasty green mass in the bread bin.

There’s a weirdness about not being in the middle of the channelled mayhem, high speed driving and long periods of waiting and bugging locals in unfamiliar places that comes with following Zuma on the campaign trail.

It’s suddenly so quiet.

There’s no thumping rally soundtrack, no sirens and blue lights, no heavies with machine guns.

No singing and toyi-toying, no loud election T-shirts, banners and posters slamming the eyeballs , no “viva, Msholozi, viva’’.

There’s no shoving your way through a heaving mass of ecstatic believers, no being jostled, bumped and groped. No in-your-face deadlines, no haggling with the Secret Service-looking cats in suits and or the comrades in those awful khaki war-correspondent-meets-great-white-hunter vests.

Things even smell and taste wrong: there’s no stomach-tempting waft of braaied meat from stadium vendors; no sweat, no petrol fumes, no red dust.

There’s a kind of sensory deprivation that comes from being away from the sometimes barely controlled chaos.

It’s amazing how easily high-voltage madness shadowing the commander-in-chief becomes normal in the course of a week on the road and how alien normal life seems after such a short time of being buried in the jamboree of his campaign.

There’s definitely an addiction involved here, something that comes from being able to focus on a single issue day after day without have to deal with workday stuff like having to fend off public relations companies wanting you to attend the opening of a new pizza franchise in a suburban mall.

It’s suddenly easy to understand how people like Zuma’s minders can sign on for that kind of gig. Mad work – the kind of adventure that takes you a million miles away from the mundane.And for Team City Press, all is very far from lost.

Tonight there’s a flight to Port Elizabeth ahead of Zuma’s charm offensive there.It’s going to be trippy watching him do his thing there.

The city has a massive ANC history, but Cope was in part born there and the DA’s banging on the door.

It’s going to be down-to-the-wire business: the ANC’s most emotive personality wooing the heart of the Friendly City. We’re back in the game, baby.

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