Zuma turns on the charm at business exhibition

2010-09-23 00:00

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma was on a charm offensive as he did a walkabout to view stands of big businesses that are marketing their enterprises at the National General Council of the African National Congress at Durban’s Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre (ICC).

Zuma yesterday visited each of the stands, mingling with company executives and representatives, and often cracked jokes along the way as an army of body guards and police had their hands full trying to keep photographers at bay.

For some, meeting the first citizen was somewhat overwhelming as the ruling party and South African president greeted each of the business representatives by shaking their hands and having brief chats with them.

Others asked to have photos of them taken with the president, who had pulled out of a busy schedule at the NGC to meet them.

Anthony Keely, general manager of the four-star Lagoon Beach Hotel, Conference and Spa Resort in Cape Town, said meeting the president was fantastic and gave business people a great opportunity to network and make contacts.

“He was very friendly; he is a rea­l man of the people. It was an honour for me, as an Irishman, to meet him,” Keely said.

“We shook hands, but did not chat that much, but he seemed such a very friendly person. On the business side, we hope to achieve a lot after our interactions in the conference,” Keely said.

Cathy Wesley from Emirates Airline said she was speechless when she met the president.

“He is such an amazing person. It was a pleasure to meet him. He gave a lot of compliments.

“As an airline we would not think twice about giving him a free ticket for him to travel to a destination of his choice,” Wesley said.

Meanwhile, Yogesh Vyas, alliance manager from Tata Consultants Services, said it was an experience of a lifetime to speak to the president and get a chance as Tata to market their business at the ANC event.

The business exhibition area was organised by the Progressive Business Forum and stands reportedly cost R100 000.

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