Tribute to 485 firefighters after Knysna inferno
It happened three days after her press conference in Johannesburg with Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane‚ at which she apologised for her tweet about colonialism and agreed to step down from all formal positions in the DA.
“It was for me incredibly significant and heart-stirring … I mean really it was. I felt really embraced … by people who live in such a squalid place and who survived such a disaster.”
Perched above a smoking piece of rubble‚ with Zille on his right hand side‚ President Jacob Zuma gazed out at the scene of the “worst disaster I have ever experienced”.
WATCH: Knysna is the worst disaster I’ve ever seen‚ says shocked Zuma
Listening to the stories of a group of White Location residents who lost their homes‚ Zuma explained to them that Zille could understand Xhosa and welcomed her into the conversation.
Western Cape DA leader Bonginkosi Madikizela and Knysna mayor Eleanore Bouw-Spies also had a chance to explain to residents what was going to be done about their situation.
When Zille described how the fire spread over the slopes and which areas it burnt‚ Zuma seemed saddened and troubled and replied‚ “It’s very bad”.
A crowd of people who had gathered near the convoy of government cars started singing the president’s praises at the first sight of him‚ but as his convoy drove off their attention was drawn to Zille.
The premier was pulled into the crowd by women with whom she danced‚ sang and embraced.
Zille said she was grateful for the support of Zuma in the Knysna emergency. “Working together cordially is very much part of politics. This isn’t the first time and it won’t be the last time‚” she said.
“Our constitution says we need to pull together and we do that very well in celebrations like the world cup but we also do it brilliantly in disasters such as this one. What we need to do is do this in routine matters‚ cut through the bureaucracy‚ get decisions taken quickly and align our systems.”