President Jacob Zuma left behind a trail of happy people on Friday afternoon when he completed his door-to-door campaign in Soshanguve, Mabopane and Ga-Rankuwa, north of Pretoria.
“Number One” and his entourage made up of Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane, Tshwane mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa, ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe and other senior party officials were tryingto garner support in the build-up to the May 7 general election.
The head of state was his charming self when he moved from house to house, with a huge crowd of ANC supporters in tow.
However, journalists were prevented from entering the houses by security and ANC volunteers who had formed a ring around the president.
An elated Katherine Maluleke, of Soshanguve, said she couldn’t believe her eyes as Zuma walked out of her Soshanguve Block K house.
“Zuma visited me; President Jacob Zuma was in my house,” she said.
Maluleke makes a living by making and selling fast-food and snacks from the back of her house.
She said: “He asked me how the business was going, and after I responded that people had no money to buy as they were unemployed, he suggested I tried selling the food in schools. I never thought of it before and I intend to do just that.”
Maluleke said she had never shaken the hand of a president before. “I never dreamt that the head of our country would set foot in my house. When he shook my hand, I was scared – I had butterflies in my stomach.”
Johannes Maredi, when asked how he felt after Zuma’s visit, was close to tears. He told the Pretoria News: “He sat on my sofa. Zuma didn’t care if my sofa was old and dirty and not in the class of the sofas he is used to.
“To be visited by the leader of the country is a miracle. I still cannot believe it. He made me feel special.”
In Mabopane, Frank Maswanganyi was not too impressed. He said Zuma had told him the government was aware of infrastructure challenges in the area, including lack of roads, sanitation and water supply.
“Zuma promised to ensure that these services were provided, but we have heard all these promises before. In fact, I feel he should have gone to the informal settlements and seen the poor conditions there first-hand,” said Maswanganyi.
“He is a king, you can’t touch him,” Ezekiel Senyolo said afterwards. “He gave me money to buy groceries and eat.”
Senyolo, who lives alone in his asbestos shack, asked Zuma to assist in bringing them water and flushing toilets.
“He said he would fix our problems and also demolish this asbestos (house) that makes us sick,” he said.
Merriam Dlamini, who lives with 13 others, asked for a job. She hoped to be able to uplift her family.
“All I want is a toilet, and a job to be able to provide for my family.”
Dlamini said Zuma had promised to develop the area. Many of the streets were not tarred and some houses did not have taps.
“He gave me money to buy groceries and eat.”