OPINION: Chinese TV interview belittled Zuma, gently
President Jacob Zuma was in China recently, and he rather recklessly decided to accept an invitation to appear on the Chinese TV interview programme, World Insight, with a very experienced interviewer, Tian Wei. Zuma made a few basic mistakes. The first was to accept the invitation.
He is simply not able to hold an English conversation on, say, aspects of industrialisation at any length. Having had to learn a few languages in my time I don’t judge him. Much as I might understand what is being said to me in German or Spanish, I would never try to do a top-flight TV interview in either of them.
The second mistake was made by his staff, if indeed he had any with him. While Tian Wei looked poised and graceful throughout the interview, Zuma looked slightly insane, his hands covering his face much of the time he was talking.
I think it was deliberate. I remember when the BBC interviewed Prime Minister John Vorster at the height of apartheid nearly 50 years ago. Vorster was a very short man and the BBC put him in a huge winged chair that not only dwarfed him but he also had no place to rest his elbows. He kept trying to put his right elbow on the wing but it would just slide down again. The effect was hilarious.
What was done to Zuma was possibly intended to belittle him too.
The camera angle on him was so poor it cannot possibly have been a mistake. Read the transcript below or watch the video. I warn you, it is excruciating. Tian Wei has been around and knows what she is doing. Here she conducts a gently negative interview with a politician who doesn’t realise what she is doing.
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