People jostled to shake his hand and chanted his clan name “Nxamalala” as he entered the Belle Ombre taxi rank‚ while others said they could not wait for him to leave as he was causing a commotion and that his visit would not change their lives.
John Chiloane‚ a taxi driver from Hammanskraal‚ said there was nothing exciting about Zuma’s presence‚ saying even those who thronged around him did not do so because they liked him‚ but just wanted to catch a glimpse of an “infamous leader” and take his pictures.
“I have no time for nonsense‚” he said.
“I am 45‚ I am forced to drive a taxi because there are no jobs. Only the ruling elite are enjoying the fruits of freedom. The country is sliding deeper into trouble each day he is in power. Should I be excited that he is here? No‚” he said.
Hawker Jozini Ndala‚23‚ said every time he saw Zuma’s face he was reminded of the lifeless bodies of 34 Marikana miners‚ millions of taxpayers’ money spent on his private Nkandla home‚ the crumbling economy‚ joblessness and high levels of crime.
“Why then must I be happy to see such a leader?‚” he asked.
While Zuma was shaking commuters’ hands in one of the taxis‚ a visibly angry taxi owner shouted at the mechanic who had left a minibus taxi he was fixing to take pictures of Zuma‚ saying: “Hey‚ Zuma is going to eat fancy food when he leaves here and you will still be eating chicken feet and pap. If you do not come and finish up here‚ you will not even have money to buy that”.
Asked what he would like Zuma to say in his speech‚ the man said “I do not care” before walking away.
Zuma’s last stop was the chaotic Marabastad refugee office where he was told of long queues‚ corruption and high rejection rate of asylum applications. He promised to speak about this during his SONA and also ask home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba to personally intervene.