Zuma takes the spotlight

2014-05-08 00:00

PHOTOJOURNALISTS climbing over each other to get the best picture, the sounds of elderly women ululating and crowds swarming the VIP protection all accompanied President Jacob Zuma when he cast his vote at the Ntolwane Primary School in Nkandla yesterday.

The ANC communications team tried to organise the media to avoid a stampede, but those plans went out of the window as the public and the media crowded the president all the way to the ballot box.

The voting had started slowly, but by the time Zuma arrived at just after 10 am accompanied by two of his wives, MaNtuli and MaKhumalo, it had picked up significantly with queues of mostly the elderly waiting. His other wife, Thobeka Mabhija had arrived and voted about 30 minutes earlier.

Zuma joined a short queue where ID books were being checked, sharing jokes with the locals.

His vote was supposed to be administered by the Independent Electoral Commission chairperson Pansy Tlakula but she had arrived late after getting lost, delaying Zuma’s vote by almost an hour. She arrived as Zuma was leaving, having gone to the Nkandla voting station instead of Nxamalala.

After his vote, Zuma addressed the media, saying he was happy with the peaceful election and that he was happy to vote after a short but challenging election campaign.

He visited the ANC campaign desk placed outside the voting station at the school but walked past the IFP and the NFP tables without as much as a glance.

The voting population was distinctly elderly and mostly female. There were very few young women coming to vote and almost no young men, prompting journalists to question where the “born frees” were, in reference to the generation born after 1994.

The ANC and the president proved extremely popular with the locals, with one man remarking as Zuma waved to the crowd, “He [the president] is a charmer”.

Many of the voters were seen coming out of the station and heading to the ANC desk to collect T-shirts, with one volunteer saying, “We are running out of T-shirts.”

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