Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma

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Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma 2014.png
Chair of the African Union Commission
In office
15 October 2012 – 30 January 2017
Deputy Erastus Mwencha
Preceded by Jean Ping
Succeeded by Moussa Faki
Minister of Home Affairs
In office
10 May 2009 – 3 October 2012
President Jacob Zuma
Preceded by Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula
Succeeded by Naledi Pandor
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
14 June 1999 – 10 May 2009
President Thabo Mbeki
Kgalema Motlanthe
Preceded by Alfred Nzo
Succeeded by Maite Nkoana-Mashabane (International Relations and Cooperation)
Minister of Health
In office
10 May 1994 – 14 June 1999
President Nelson Mandela
Preceded by Rina Venter
Succeeded by Manto Tshabalala-Msimang
Personal details
Born (1949-01-27) 27 January 1949 (age 68)
Natal, South Africa
Political party African National Congress
Spouse(s) Jacob Zuma (1982–1998)
Alma mater University of Zululand
University of Natal
University of Bristol
University of Liverpool

Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini-Zuma (born 27 January 1949) is a South African politician and anti-apartheid activist. She was South Africa's Minister of Health from 1994 to 1999, under President Nelson Mandela, then Minister of Foreign Affairs from 17 June 1999 to 10 May 2009, under presidents Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe. She was moved to the position of Minister of Home Affairs in the Cabinet of President Jacob Zuma, her ex-husband, on 10 May 2009 a capacity in which she served until her resignation on 2 October 2012.

On 15 July 2012, Dlamini-Zuma was elected by the African Union Commission as its chairperson, making her the first woman to lead the organisation (including its predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity).[1] She took office on 15 October 2012. She has been tipped as a future leader of the African National Congress.[2] On 30 January 2017, she was replaced as Chairperson of the AU Commission by Chadian Foreign Minister Moussa Faki Mahamat.[3]

Early years[edit]

Dlamini-Zuma, a Zulu, was born in Natal, the eldest of eight children. She completed high school at the Amanzimtoti Training College in 1967.[4] In 1971, she started her studies in Zoology and Botany at the University of Zululand, from where she obtained a Bachelor's Degree in Science (BSc). She subsequently started her medical studies at the University of Natal, completing medical studies, however, at the University of Bristol in the UK in 1978.[5]


During her studies in the early 1970s, Dlamini-Zuma became an active underground member of South African Students Organisation (Student Wing For BCM as Influenced by Steve Biko) and was elected as its deputy president in 1976.

During the same year Dlamini-Zuma fled into exile; she completed her medical studies at the University of Bristol in 1978. She subsequently worked as a doctor at the Mbabane Government Hospital in Swaziland, where she met her future husband, current ANC party president Jacob Zuma. In 1985 she returned to the United Kingdom to complete a diploma in tropical child health from Liverpool University's School of Tropical Medicine. After receiving her diploma, she worked for the ANC Regional Health Committee before accepting the position of director of the Health and Refugee Trust, a British non-governmental organisation.


Health Department[edit]

During the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA) negotiations in 1992, Dlamini-Zuma was part of the Gender Advisory Committee. After the first all-inclusive South African elections of 1994, she was appointed as Minister of Health in the cabinet of President Nelson Mandela.

During her tenure as Minister of Health she de-segregated the health system. However, an AIDS education play – Sarafina II – she commissioned was criticised by the Public Protector for poor financial controls and poor commissioning procedures. Dlamini-Zuma agreed to shelve the play following the Public Protector's report.[6][7][8] Dlamini-Zuma was also criticised for supporting the anti-AIDS drug, Virodene, which was cheaper than other drugs but rejected by the scientific community as ineffective.[8][9]

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma divorced from Jacob Zuma in 1998.[8]

Dlamini-Zuma brought forward the Tobacco Products Control Bill in 1999, which made it illegal for anyone to smoke in public places.

Following the 1999 general election, Nelson Mandela retired as President and was replaced by Thabo Mbeki. Mbeki appointed Dlamini-Zuma as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Foreign Affairs Department[edit]

She was offered the Deputy Presidency of South Africa by Thabo Mbeki after he fired Jacob Zuma, but declined it after talking to her children. The deputy presidency position was then offered to and accepted by Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.[10]

She was suggested as a possible ANC candidate for the Presidency in the 2009 election and for the leadership of the party. On 15 November 2007, she said that she would be willing to accept a nomination by the ANC,[11][12] although her spokesman said the next day that she had not entered the succession debate in the ANC.[13]

Dlamini-Zuma was nominated for the party's deputy presidency by four provinces aligned to President Thabo Mbeki, while the five provinces backing her ex-husband ANC deputy president Jacob Zuma preferred her as the national chairperson. [10] She was elected to the ANC's 80-member National Executive Committee in December 2007 in 35th place, with 1,885 votes.[14]

On 22 September 2008, Dlamini-Zuma resigned along with 10 other ministers of the South African cabinet, the deputy president and the president. After Thabo Mbeki was ousted by the African National Congress, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was abroad and said to be filling her papers of resigning but instead was retained as the Foreign Minister in Kgalema Motlanthe's cabinet.

Home Affairs[edit]

In the Zuma cabinet she served as Minister of Home Affairs.

African Union[edit]

In January 2012, Dlamini-Zuma sought to become the Chairperson of the African Union Commission by running against incumbent Jean Ping. In the first election, a deadlock in the voting as a consequence of an inability to secure a two-thirds majority of the vote meant that Ping's term was extended by six months.[15]

An election on 15 July at the nineteenth session of the Assembly of the African Union,[16] however, resulted in Dlamini-Zuma being elected over Ping[17] after three rounds of voting in which she got 37 votes, or 60% in a race that was largely about Francophone states against Anglophone states, particularly in southern Africa. Prior to the vote, she also said that "I don't think the continent will be polarised. [The winner would] make sure they work with everybody, irrespective of where and who they voted for," after chairman Thomas Boni Yayi warned of a divided union with undermined global credibility.

After the vote, Ping's spokesman, Noureddine Mezni, said he "has accepted the results of the elections and wishes Madame Dlamini-Zuma the very best...he expressed his readiness to co-operate with her to work together for the unity of the continent." Other congratulatory messages came from AU chairman and Beninese President Thomas Boni Yayi who said: "Now we have the African Union chair Madame Zuma, who will preside over the destiny of this institution." South African President Jacob Zuma said that her election "means a lot for Africa...for the continent, unity and the empowerment of women," while Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said that "she's a freedom fighter, not a bureaucrat or a diplomat."[18]

In 2015 an open letter which the ONE Campaign had been collecting signatures for was addressed to her and Angela Merkel, urging them to focus on women as they serve as the head of the African Union and the G7 respectively, which will start to set the priorities in development funding before a main UN summit in September 2015 that will establish new development goals for the generation.[19]

Personal life[edit]

She married Jacob Zuma, with whom she has four children, Msholozi (born 1982), Gugulethu Zuma-Ncube(born 1985) married to one son of a Zimbabwean politician and President of MDC party Welshman Ncube, Thuli (Nokuthula Nomaqhawe) (born 1987) and Thuthu (Thuthukile Xolile Nomonde) (born 1989). They divorced in June 1998.[20]


Dlamini-Zuma has been awarded honorary Doctor of Law degrees by both the University of Natal (1995) and the University of Bristol (1996).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ African Union chooses first female leader | World news. The Guardian.
  2. ^ Butler, Anthony (10 April 2015). "Is SA's first female president on horizon?". BD Live. 
  3. ^ http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-38795676
  4. ^ Adams College, Historic Schools Restoration Project. Retrieved 3 August 2013
  5. ^ http://www.au.int/en/cpauc/profile
  6. ^ "The Sarafina II Controversy". Healthlink.org.za. Retrieved 15 May 2011. 
  7. ^ "Zuma'S Response To Sarafina Ii". Doh.gov.za. Retrieved 15 May 2011. 
  8. ^ a b c Dlamini-Zuma, the stern diplomat, Independent Online, 29 January 2012
  9. ^ See also Virodene for further references
  10. ^ a b Dlamini-Zuma can just 'pick 'n choose' Cape Times (IOL) 27 November 2007
  11. ^ Boyd Webb, "Is SA ready for a female president?", Cape Times (IOL), 16 November 2007.
  12. ^ "Dlamini-Zuma available for ANC leadership", Mail & Guardian Online, 16 November 2007.
  13. ^ "Dlamini-Zuma not in ANC succession debate", Mail & Guardian Online, 16 November 2007.
  14. ^ Brendan Boyle, "Winnie Mandela tops ANC election list" Archived 2 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine., The Times (South Africa), 21 December 2007.
  15. ^ "AU chooses Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma as leader". BBC News (15 July 2012).
  16. ^ [1] Archived 4 July 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  17. ^ England, Andrew. (16 July 2012) South African wins top AU job. Financial Times.
  18. ^ South African named first woman to chair AU – Africa. Al Jazeera.
  19. ^ Tracy McVeigh. "Poverty is sexist: leading women sign up for global equality | Life and style". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-05-08. 
  20. ^ Molele, Charles (15 December 2007). "So who will the Zuma First Lady be?". The Times. UK. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Rina Venter
Minister of Health
Succeeded by
Manto Tshabalala-Msimang
Preceded by
Alfred Nzo
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Succeeded by
Maite Nkoana-Mashabane
as Minister of International Relations and Cooperation
Preceded by
Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula
Minister of Home Affairs
Succeeded by
Naledi Pandor
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Jean Ping
Chair of the African Union Commission
Succeeded by
Moussa Faki