12 days with Zuma: The holy man, the ex-spin doctor and the road to Nkandla

2011-05-17 07:38

It’s President Jacob Zuma’s final gig of the 2011 Nxamalala tour.

There’s a mass of little kids sitting across the steps of the stage at the Riverlea empowerment centre with ANC flags in their hands.

A couple are dressed in mini ANC T-shirts. There are some in oversized adult jobs. Some are looking stunned. Others are giggling.

There’s at least one nose picker.

Reg Jegels, a local reverend, is clearly in his element on stage. Half televangelist, half commissar, the holy man’s hammering out a “Please God, vote for the ANC’’ rap at the top of his lungs, hardly pausing to breathe as he exhorts believers to vote for the black, green and gold come tomorrow.

The comrades are loving it: yellow T-shirts, amens and amandlas all the way as Reg revs it up, eyes screwed shut.

He winds up.The comrades take their seats. The commander in chief gets an armchair.

Vincent Smith, the MC, gets busy introducing the guests. He calls up Jesse Duarte, who’s from the area and Zuma’s former spin doctor. She hasn’t been out and about much lately.

Comrade Jesse gets busy amandlaring, and calls on her homies “om die DA se boude te slaan”.

The commander in chief’s having a laugh.His turn comes. Zuma’s looking chilled and confident, all blue suit and open-necked shirt.

He’s not looking like a man of 68 who’s just spent the past couple of weeks blazing around the country pressing the flesh, kissing babies, giving out wheelchairs and selling the ANC gospel to thousands and thousands of crazed fans screaming his name and demanding a song.

The commander in chief’s been everywhere and done it all: rallies, door to door walkabouts, breakfasts, lunches and dinners in strange places.

He mixed it up with chiefs, priests and taxi drivers and still looks like he’s hardly worked up a sweat.

This is his final gig of the 2011 Nxamalala tour, a mad race around the country in planes, four-by-fours and choppers that’s seen him tearing up stages and belting out his signature tune at who knows how many people at endless rallies.

Now all roads lead to Nkandla, where the commander in chief plays the final home fixture tomorrow.

Then it’s back to the real world for the commander in chief. And for Team City Press.It’s over. Finito. No more blue light blitzkrieg – at least until next time.

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