Excuse Me, Mr President…
It’s not every day one marches up to the President and invites him for an impromptu visit to one’s club. But with President Jacob Zuma literally falling from the sky onto the Empangeni Round Table clubhouse ‘stoep’, North Coast Area Vice Chairman Tiaan Davel did the neighbourly thing.
On Monday afternoon Empangeni residents were drawn to the rugby fields at Mick Kelly Park after hearing two large SA National Defence Force helicopters circling the town before landing there.
Curious onlookers were surprised to hear that President Zuma was on board one of the craft, waiting for a motorcade to meet him after visiting various Zululand locations for the ANC Musa Dladla Region Centenary Rally celebrations which took place over the weekend.
As the President – surrounded by armed bodyguards – moved from the helicopter to his vehicle, Davel marched across the field and stuck out his hand. ‘Basically, I introduced myself and said we had opened our new Round Table clubhouse on the premises of the Rugby Club,’ explains Davel.
‘I asked if he would mind stopping at the club and having a photograph with the members and officially opening the premises for u s .’ Davel said the President immediately accepted his impromptu invitation and said he would send a security guard ahead to inspect the premises. ‘There was great excitement and this is a fantastic memory for the club members,’ said Davel. The President’s motorcade pulled up to the building, which was thronging with excited children. He greeted each family, shaking hands and sharing a joke with several adults who took photographs and introduced their children. He then sped off with a wave and a smile.
‘Not many Round Table clubs can say the President of the country opened their premises. I think this is definitely a first,’ said Davel. The children and onlookers then raced back to the rugby fields to watch the massive SANDF helicopters warm up their engines before taking off in a synchronized display that delighted the scores of children.
Words & Photos By: Laurie Smith – Zululand Observer