Mlambo-Ngcuka sworn in as South African deputy president

Friday, June 24, 2005

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka was sworn in as deputy president of South Africa Thursday becoming the first woman ever to hold that position. Other Cabinet members applauded as she was sworn in to office in Cape Town. Her appointment comes after former deputy president Jacob Zuma was sacked after being accused of corruption relating to a bribery scandal.

She stated that she will perform much the same function as Zuma, namely "looking after the second economy", HIV/AIDS issue, and other assignments President Thabo Mbeki give her. "I will be looking after women and youth," she also said.

Mlambo-Ngcuka, a former school teacher, travelled to Geneva, Switzerland to work with the YWCA. She returned to South Africa in 1987 and assumed a leading role in the Ecumenical Action Group and other anti-apartheid groups. She was later elected to parliament and appointed deputy trade and industry minister.

In 2003 she publicly accused Jacob Zuma of corruption, though the case was never formalized due to insufficient evidence. Her husband, former national director of Public Prosecutions Bulelani Ngcuka, investigated Zuma and concluded that prima facie evidence of corruption existed.

Individuals opposed to her appointment accuse her of involvement in the transfer of large sums of taxpayers' money to the African National Congress' election fund through an oil company. Her brother, who asserts that the transaction was completely above board, has been implicated in South African news reports.