Jacob Zuma’s daughter, Thuthukile (25), may have made history in South Africa as the youngest head of ministry when her appointment as the Chief of Staff in the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services recently was confirmed.
Thuthukile Zuma is the youngest daughter of President Jacob Zuma’s four daughters with his ex-wife, the former minister of Home Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who is now head of the African Union. She was born twenty five years ago and attended the University of the Witwatersrand where she studied for an honors degree in Anthropology. After graduating from varsity in 2011, she worked briefly at the ANC headquarters until she moved to the State Security Department where she spent less than a year working with a Zuma loyalist, Siyabonga Cwele as a public liaison officer. After the May 7 elections, Cwele was moved to the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services.
It appears that in a space of two months, Thuthu, as she is sometimes called, has moved from this lowly position of public liaison officer to one of the most powerful positions of Chief of Staff in the new ministry. Announcing her controversial appointment, the departmemt’s spokesperson, Siya Qoza, in a statement said that Thuthukile Zuma’s appointment was consistent with the rules and regulations governing the appointment of government ministries. He added that, in considering Zuma for the position in question, the minister, Siyabonga Cwele, had only considered her capacity to do the job and her qualifications. He argued that her genealogy was never a consideration.
However, her appointment to this powerful position has raised the ire of several people within the department and the public, who have screamed blue murder and accused the minister of nepotism. They argue that the post was never advertised as is the normal procedure. However, further investigation by this publication confirmed that the minister, in this case Siyabonga Cwele, has the prerogative to appoint whoever they see fit to take up any position in their department. The bone of contention with members of the department is that the position requires extensive knowledge of the Public Service Management Framework and Public Finance Management and requires at least five to 10 years’ experience at senior management level. This is apparently lacking in the new appointee, Thuthu Zuma. However, according to media reports, there is confirmation that the position of Chief of Staff is a political appointment and in political appointments, the minister does not need to consider the candidate’s experience.
However, it appears that it will not be a bed of roses for Thuthu. It is reported that a formal complaint has been lodged against her appointment. Responding to the news about a formal complaint having been made, the ministerial spokesperson said that there was no record of a complaint regarding Zuma’s appointment.