Mangaung Mutters: The Mangaung money shot

While photographers scramble for the money shot, Paddy Harper studies the man on the other side of the lens, Jacob Zuma, and realises how he won Mangaung

I am really glad I’m not a photographer at the conference.

Being a writer is rough enough. The shooters’ gig here is just plain undignified.

Inside plenary they’re like a pack of starving dogs. You can’t blame them. There’s hundreds of them.

They’re weighed down with all kinds of mshinis, lenses, backup mshinis.

They’re being herded into a tiny space in front of the stage by security cats. That lot have been waiting to push somebody around since Polokwane. They’re not shy.

The shooters are all elbows and cursing. They’re poking each other’s eyes out while trying to get a different shot from the same place as everybody else.

Then the security bring out the cattle prods and they’re out of the tent.

Outside plenary is nearly as bad. They’re roaming the campus and its surroundings, snapping anything that may or may not move.

The minute there’s word that a big shot’s coming, they’re off like a mugger down an alley.

Go for a post-conference drink at any delegate hang-out and you’ll end up with a lens in your face.

Like when the commander in chief (Cic), all teeth and grins, took to the stage on Tuesday afternoon.

Ditto for when his new number two, Cyril Ramaphosa, and the rest of Team Nxamalala joined him.

Absolute madness.

I thought somebody was gonna get hurt. Thankfully, they didn’t.

Cyril must be smiling though. He took more votes than anybody else in the top six. Tokyo and the others spent millions, we hear.

Word is that Cyril didn’t even give away a single free McMeal.

I hear that even Kgalema Motlanthe voted for him. This other comrade reckons even Ju Know Who tried to vote for Cyril.

By SMS, that is.

Can’t blame the CiC for having a laugh. I would if I were him.

All these muppets are writhing around maiming each other for a picture of him for their newspapers and agencies. Most of which had written him off for dead. Just like at Polokwane.

And the national general council in Durban. There, Ju Know Who and the beret brigade were cutting short the CiC’s gig.

We all know how those fixtures ended. There’s reason for this. It’s very simple.

When the chips are down, the CiC does what he does best. He keeps quiet. He ignores the media, the opposition.

The CiC goes to the branches. That’s where he and his members do their talking. They keep it simple.

They keep it tight. They get their people onside.

They keep them from straying. They work like dogs. They keep it as undercover as possible.

The CiC turns every game into a home fixture.

There’s nobody better at that. Be it Maputo, Polokwane, Mbizana or Mangaung, the CiC makes it clear this is his turf.

The punters in the branches dig this. They digged the CiC in 2007. They still dig him now in 2012. Nkandla mansion or no Nkandla mansion, he’s still their man.

While the sub rosa graft and plotting is going on, the CiC acts like all’s Cool and the Gang. It’s Peace, Love and Khongolose.

The CiC’s hard men – and women – are at it.

They’re getting stuck into the other side. They’re breaking down the attack before the ball even gets to midfield.

The CiC’s hugging you. His members are (politically) kicking you unconscious around the corner.

You’re too busy trying to avoid the two-footed tackles to pass the ball. The CiC’s joking, keeping the referee occupied.

It’s gangster. It works.

The CiC’s middle name is Gedleyihlekisa. This means “the one who smiles with you while tearing you apart”.

Enough said.

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