Zuma vs. Zille (The full story)
I was on assignment with The Cape Times, to do a report on the new Industrial Development Zone in Saldanha Bay. I didn’t know what angle Cobus Coetzee (political journalist) was going to use on the story so I decided to shoot across the spectrum.
Environmental portraits of the locals who would be affected by the development and landscapes of the town’s existing industries was part of my scribbled shot list.
We heard that amongst the delegates that will be attending the launch of the IDZ would be President Jacob Zuma, the premier of the Western Cape and leader of the opposition party Helen Zille, deputy minister Marius Fransman and various other cabinet members. I didn’t think much of it at the time but I knew that it’s never a bad thing to have the country’s leaders in my viewfinder.
The logistics of the event was a complete nightmare. Not that it was a difficult situation. It was just organized in a true African manner. Most of the delegates pushed the boundaries of being fashionably late to the upmost extreme and the driver of our overcrowded media van almost ended all of our careers in an incident involving a thoroughly indicated speed bump.
Authorities had no control over the few hundred strong crowd inside the tent and there was thousands waiting outside of the sport grounds with ANC shirts and posters. Between the presidents guards, the police and the official security at the sport grounds, no one looked like they were in charge and even though I was within an arm length from the president, not once did anyone ask for my credentials.
As the story unfolded, Helen Zille was hackled so much by the ANC supporters that she lost her cool and stormed off the podium towards the president.
On her way out the back, she greeted him and exchanged a few words.
I took aim with an 80-200 from the outside through an opening in the tent. The crowd was pushing and pulling and I am pretty sure I was resting the lens on a woman’s head when the significant couple of photos were taken.
Outside awaited a flurry of reporters, camera crews and journalists to get a response from the primer.
Amongst the media, a few ANC supporters from other districts followed the premier while shouting profanities. In all honesty, I thought these photos would make much more of an impact until I got back to the hotel and saw the facial expressions on the two leader’s faces.
I personally don’t think much of the photos apart from the fact that it’s the first recording of the two leader’s true relationship.
It was the classic situation of being at the right place at the right time. Over the next few days, the series of photos appeared in all the biggest national newspapers including 4 front pages.
I guess this is the most recognition I have received yet for doing what I love and it would not have happened without the splendid journalism of Cobus Coetzee and the support from everyone at The Cape Times on this assignment.