Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma: ‘I’m not corrupt and I don’t loot’

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA – MAY 7: Africa Union Chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma speaks during the Africa Investor (Ai) Infrastructure Investor Summit on May 7, 2013 in Cape Town, South Africa. The annual development summit is held mainly for infrastructure investors and project developers. (Photo by Gallo Images / Foto24 / Danielle Karallis)

NAME: Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma

AGE:  68

GOVERNMENT EXPERIENCE:  Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has served in different portfolios in government, and has been minister of the Departments of Health, Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs.

She left the country in 2012 to serve as the first female chair of the African Union Commission. Her tenure came to an end at the beginning of 2017.

Since her return to South African politics she has focused mainly on her campaign to replace her former husband, President Jacob Zuma, as the ANC’s president when his term ends in December. She has also been appointed as a Member of Parliament, with some pundits predicting that she will be appointed to Cabinet in the few remaining weeks ahead of the party’s watershed conference.

UPSIDE: Dlamini-Zuma comes with a wealth of experience as both a leader in government and in the ANC, having joined the struggle and gone into exile during her days as a student and serving the movement in various ways across different countries.

A vote for Dlamini-Zuma as ANC president means South Africa might get its first female president.

DOWNSIDE: Her close family links to Zuma have seen her criticised as being an “extension” of the Zuma presidency and speculation is that he wants her to succeed him to protect him against corruption charges.

But others have said she could surprise the camp, if elected president.

Her campaign has also been supported by Zuma’s staunch supporters – some of them questionable characters such as convicted fraudster Carl Niehaus. Her campaign was also reported to be supported by known tobacco smugglers.

“People can accuse me of many things, but not corruption. I’m not corrupt and I don’t loot,” Dlamini-Zuma tweeted, denying that she accepted money from cigarette smugglers.

The former AU Commission chair has been described as “difficult” to work with. She has turned down several requests for media interviews and had altercations with journalists during her campaign trail. She has blamed media of being “bias” against her.

She is the oldest of the presidential candidates with some in the ANC saying they don’t believe someone who should be a pensioner would have their best interests at heart.

ON RET:  Radical economic transformation has been the back bone of her presidential campaign. She has called for the need to change ownership of means of production in all sectors including banking and funeral industries.

She has often said no patriotic South African should be comfortable with the current status quo as it threatens the country’s peace and stability by producing an army of young unemployed youths.

Dlamini-Zuma has consistently emphasised that political power was meaningless while the most in the country were kept on the outskirts of the country’s economy.

She has also cautioned that there would be stiff resistance to the ANC, should it push forward the policy to radically transform South Africa’s economy, comparing it to a once unpopular policy decision to ban public smoking in 2000, one she steered as minister of health.

ON STATE CAPTURE: Although she has reportedly said there wasn’t much she could do about the State of Capture report’s allegations, which implicate her former spouse, Dlamini-Zuma did express concern over the claims.

She told Huffington Post that corruption allegations against the president could not be ignored and should be investigated.

“Where allegations are made against any person or persons, these must be investigated so that the nation knows whether there is a basis for charges and to provide them with an opportunity to answer to the allegations,” Dlamini-Zuma told the publication.

She also said her track record should be used as a reference when it comes to whether or not she would take action against corrupt individuals.

“Wherever I have found untoward actions in the departments that I was in charge of, I acted. The department of home affairs, under my leadership, not only radically improved services to all South Africans, but we also got a clean audit, something that was seen as very unlikely before.”

THE JUDICIARY: She has taken a similar stance on the courts to many in the ANC who have been vocal in their criticism of political parties who turn to the courts to resolve certain matters, but Dlamini-Zuma has directed her unkind views to the DA, claiming that the party had recognised that it could use the judiciary to govern.

ON FREE EDUCATION: Dlamini-Zuma has been a staunch critic of universities in the country. She has claimed that they teach students that South Africa was not a democracy but a one party state and that the ANC is corrupt. Speaking at an education lecture organised by the Youth League in Durban she said free education was necessary for the country’s development.

Dlamini-Zuma also urged the youth to use education to transform the country’s economy, telling students in KwaZulu-Natal that transformation was not just about getting admitted into institutions of higher learning but changing demographics of academic staff.

HER SLATE: Although she has opted not to follow her rival, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, to announce her “running mates” or preference for the other top 6 positions, the Women’s and Youth Leagues and Umkonto We Sizwe military association’s slates are seen as an extension of her wishes.

The leagues and association have already pronounced on NDZ, the top 6 and additional members. Their top 6 pick includes:

Deputy president: David “DD” Mabuza

Secretary general: Ace Magashule

Deputy secretary general: Jessie Duarte

National chair: Nathi Mthethwa

Treasurer-general: Maite Nkoana-Mashabane

Her detractors have poked fun at the fact that most of her lieutenants have failed to convince their own branches to nominate her for the top position.

ON ANC SUCCESSION: Dlamini-Zuma and her supporters have maintained that the time has come for the ANC to have a female leader and that she is the person with the best credentials to step into that role. She has also had to fight off claims that she owed her career to her former spouse or that she would win the race to lead the party because of her links to Zuma.

“I find it offensive,” she said, in reply to a reporter’s question. “I will not be elected by President Jacob Zuma. If I’m elected, I will be elected by South Africans.”

(Photo credit:  Gallo Images / Foto24 / Danielle Karallis)