The appointment of Thuthukile Xolile Nomonde Zuma, the daughter of President Jacob Zuma, as the chief of staff in the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services raised eyebrows in South Africa recently.
At only 25 years of age Thuthukile Zuma became the youngest chief of staff of a minister’s office ever appointed in South Africa.
Thuthukile Zuma was born on 28 April 1989, and is the youngest of president Jacob Zuma’s four daughters with ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
She matriculated from Westerford High School in December 2006. In 2011 she graduated from Wits University with a BA in anthropology, and followed it up with an honours degree at the same institution at 2012.
In 2013 she joined the ministry of state security as a public liaison officer (age 24). In May 2014 she was appointed as the chief of staff in the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services at the age of 25.
The full article about Thuthukile Zuma’s appointment as chief of staff in the Mail & Guardian is available here.
Very fast professional rise
Many people questioned Thuthukile Zuma’s rise from an entry-level position of public liaison officer to chief of staff – earning nearly R1 million annually – in only one year.
The Mail & Guardian reported that this meteoric rise “raised concerns about political nepotism at the renamed Department of Telecommunications and Postal services”.
The new minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Siyabonga Cwele, was also the minister of state security where Thuthukile Zuma previously worked.
Thuthukile Zuma versus other ministerial chiefs of staff
MyBroadband selected a few ministerial chiefs of staff from other departments to see how their age and qualifications compare with that of Thuthukile Zuma.
What we found was that all of the surveyed chiefs of staff had a tertiary education, and were all between the ages of 40 and 65 (except for Thuthukile Zuma).
Thuthukile Zuma versus other graduates
To assess how Thuthukile Zuma’s professional progress compares with other BA Hons in anthropology graduates in South Africa, MyBroadband looked at the current positions of some of her peers.
To protect their privacy, the identities of people listed in the infographic below are not exposed. Market related salaries were used for their current positions.
Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services explains
MyBroadband asked the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services whether Thuthukile Zuma was the best choice available for the position of chief of staff.
MyBroadband also asked the department how Thuthukile Zuma was able to gain the needed experience to become chief of staff so fast.
Department spokesperson Siyabulela Qoza said that her contract appointment in the ministry was consistent with the rules and regulations governing the appointment of people in government ministries.
“She holds an honours 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,” said Qoza.
“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 article was first published on MyBroadband.