The Indaba Show: Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka on her roles in politics and education

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First known for her influential leadership in the political sphere, Former Deputy President of South Africa, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, is now turning her focus to education and empowering the next generation. 

On the Indaba Show this week with Steven Taylor, Mlambo-Ngcuka shares her excitement as she steps into a new role as Chancellor of the University of Johannesburg (UJ) from this month. 

“There is so much to do in education. I really want to help in this University and support the cool things that they are doing. They’re doing a lot of things in technology. And the university is also not just focused on the students within the university, but it’s also concerned about working outside the university and creating a rich pipeline of students that will come,” she said. 

Mlambo-Ngcuka was a member of the first South African democratically elected Parliament in 1994 where her first role was as the deputy minister in the Department of Trade and Industry and later as the minister of Minerals and Energy. 

“In the ANC, I was really in the background. I was a foot soldier. I tended to be one of those people who was more in the backroom making things happen, and not so much in front,” she said. 

From 2005-2008, she was the highest-ranking female political leader in the history of the country as she was the Deputy President alongside President Thabo Mbeki. 

“To be a Deputy President is obviously to support the President and to oversee ministers who are ultimate bosses. As a Deputy President, we are not the ultimate boss. Because we are a deputy and they are ultimate bosses in their own work. So it was a bit tricky.”

She said her working relationship with Mbekia was good and while they didn’t always agree on everything, they always had eachothers backs. 

Mlambo-Ngcuka is also the former United Nations (UN) Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women.

Written by: Kelly-Jane Turner

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