Tourists at Union Buildings oblivious to SA's political drama

14 February 2018 - 17:39 By Nico Gous
Union Buildings in Pretoria. File photo.
Union Buildings in Pretoria. File photo.
Image: Gallo Images/Thinkstock

While the media camped out for an appearance by President Jacob Zuma that failed to materialise‚ tourists hopped off buses at the Union Buildings seemingly oblivious to the political drama playing out on Wednesday.

Tourists made their way down the steps to the lawns of the Union Buildings to a giant statue of former President Nelson Mandela while reporters gazed at the grey glass doors they usually enter to attend media briefings in the administrative capital of the country.

While the nation was on tenterhooks about whether Zuma would resign‚ it was a normal day at the Union Buildings for informal trader Edith Kagwisagye‚ originally from Uganda. The only difference was that she had been given three roses made out of wire and beads for Valentine’s Day. Kagwisagye said the atmosphere was the same as every other day.

“When we (informal traders) come here for our business‚ we don’t entertain other scenes‚ because we know that we are here for our children‚” she said.

Kagwisagye said that she was an ANC supporter‚ but would not share her views on Zuma and his future.

One tourist looked as if he was ready to go viral at any moment. He only took the GoPro attached to his forehead off to pose for photographs with his family.

Zuma’s live interview with the SABC later in the day jolted the media out of their huddles in shady patches as they watched him speak on cellphones‚ laptops or listened on car radios.

Meanwhile gardeners tried to keep the weeds at bay and grounds neat. A few couples braved the afternoon heat to celebrate Valentine’s Day over lunchtime while others sought reprieve in cool drinks and ice-cream.

Local photographer William Ngobeni said on Valentine’s Day most lovers brought blankets to spread out on the grass in the late afternoon at around 6pm to enjoy the sunset. He said he did not receive anything for Valentine’s Day. At least “not yet”.

Meanwhile a lonely trailer packed with razor wire remained idle and unused all day‚ but ready to be deployed.