Today I had no appointments so I drove out to Cyrildene to hear from the Chairman of the Chinese Police Forum, Rob Crawford. He informed us that President Jacob Zuma would be at the official opening of the Arch on Derrick Avenue, Cyrildene.
Being the curious journos we are, we went to the opening to see what would be happening. We were surprised to see a marquee and a number of Chines delegates in attendance sitting and waiting for the President to arrive.
We didn’t have media passes so we thought we wouldn’t be able tp get in. As we arrived we told the guy who was security manning the red tape stopping people from entering that we were media.
He looked at us confused and said: “We were told nothing about that we only know about journalists”. After we explained that a journalist was media, we were allowed to enter. Considering that the President of the Republic was going to be there I just didn’t understand.
How could someone who was not even aware of who was allowed to enter be given such a task? It was literally as if they had taken a man from the street who would be willing to stand there for a few hours and earn a quick buck.
Just as I was thinking that was it we had to move forward and go through metal detectors. At that point I was sure there would be a list with names or publications. When we approached the security guards we were greeted very nicely and allowed in. Yet again I was shocked.
When Zuma arrived there was at least four policemen with huge guns on the ground and on surrounding balconies. The speeches were conducted in both Mandarin and English and everything else was normal.
Zuma told us about how great the union between China and South Africa is as well as how the National Development Plan is the best thing since Nelson Mandela.
Okay maybe I’m being a little bit cynical but I hate any speeches by politicians just before election time. They end up being about political campaigns even if it’s irrelevant to the matter at hand.
Cyrildene was buzzing. The streets were cleaned up, the people were up and about and there was an atmosphere I hadn’t experienced in the last two weeks. It was nice to see people gathered on the streets and waving the South African and Chinese flags side by side.