Zuma’s Daughter’s Appointment As Chief Of Staff: The Facts You Missed


Last year, a lot of eyebrows were raised and a lot of feathers ruffled when Mail and Guardian reported in July, that president Zuma’s 25-year-old daughter had been appointed chief of staff in the Department of Telecommunications and Postal services. Most people who opposed the move did so because the young lady seemed too young to be able to handle the burden that comes with such top government office. They argued that she did not have the required amount of experience necessary to carry out the duties that accrue to the office. Some others felt that the only reason she could have been appointed chief was because she was president Zuma;s daughter and nothing more, so by inference she did not merit it.

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Despite all of the arguments, Thuthukile Zuma who was born on 28 April 1989, and is the youngest of president Jacob Zuma’s four daughters with ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, has made history as the youngest chief of staff of a minister’s office ever appointed in South Africa at the young age of 25. She had joined the ministry of state security as a public liaison officer at age 24 and In May 2014 she was appointed as the chief of staff in the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services at the age of 25.

On a more official front, a complaint was made to the public protector, which was referred to the Public Services Commission (PSC) in August. The PSC finalized its investigation in October and informed the complainant that “the appointment of Ms Zuma was found to be in line with the prevailing prescripts”.

Despite the fact that the debates have been cleared up, some people still feel the fighting grounds were not equal between her and other graduates as well as other staff members who would have been considered for the position. So, we bring you facts that will help you decide if it was a fair appointment or if there was an edge from the presidency that served as a stepping stone to the young Chief.

1. When you consider the ages of all the other Government Department Chiefs of Staff,  you will realize that  young Thuthukile is the youngest so far. The graph below shows it better.


While some things may not be put down as rules and regulations, they still follow a particular pattern that is distinct and unique to such things. There may have not been a rule that says that a chief of staff must be over 40 years and have experience of over 10 working years, but if you follow the pattern of all the people who have been chief of staffs, none has ever been as young as Ms Zuma at the time they resumed office.

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2. Her rise to the position was somewhat dramatic. It is not often that we see people rise from being a lowly entry-level employees to the head of the department. People can get double promotions for hard work or for the length of time they have been with the department to a senior position or a managerial post that pays better and allows them more freedom. Now if we go with that, There are people who have been in the department long before Thuthukile came along, there are people who have risen at a really gradual pace through the levels, then there are those others who have gotten to the top and are waiting and nursing the ambition of being made the head of the department yet they could not get there. So do you think it was just hard work and ambition that took young Thuthukile from a lowly entry-level liaison officer to the chief of staff?

3. Every year, graduates flood the labor market looking for the right place to sink their skills and knowledge. Some are fortunate to be taken, others are too skilled to be ignored while some others are lucky to know someone who knows someone who could put in a good word for them. From her CV that was made public during the investigations, it was obvious that there was nothing she had done that other graduates have not done, some have even done more. To assess how Thuthukile Zuma’s professional progress compares with that other BA Hons in anthropology graduates in South Africa,lets looked at the current positions and salaries of some of her peers with hers and see how steady it is.


4. Then comes the big question, ‘Was she the best option for the job? Wasn’t there one person who was older, had more experience, been in the department long enough or even someone who knew more about the activities of the department than Zuma’s daughter? How did the department measure her level of experience to know she was capable of handling the position? in response to these questions, spokesperson for the department Siyabulela Qoza had the following to say:

“She holds an honors degree. Ms Zuma has worked with the Minister before. The Minister only considered her capacity to the job and her qualifications. Her genealogy was never a consideration.”

“Ms Zuma, just like all citizens, enjoys the freedom to participate in any economic activity, including being employed in government or the private sector.”

This seems to be in tandem with the opinion of the Public Services Commission (PSC) in october when it said that “the appointment of Ms Zuma was found to be in line with the prevailing prescripts”. However, the above views seems contradict the critical report by the PSC into the appointment of ministerial staff as published in May, before the news of Zuma’s appointment broke where the PSC recommends in the report that stringent selection processes should be followed.

“The chief of staff position is at a senior management services level, and therefore the selection processes should not be different from those utilized to select a chief director for a line function in a department. This means that candidates should be assessed/interviewed and should undergo a competency assessment in line with the requirements.”

5. The above point gives birth to the reminder that the position was never advertised. Although ministers have the prerogative to make these appointments without going through the normal processes. Several departments advertise such posts to ensure they attract the best-qualified candidates.

The PSC have ruled that Ms Zuma’s appointment was legal and proper but does it really stop there?

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