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Zuma’s 25-year-old daughter appointed as top telecoms chief

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Thuthukile Zuma, President Jacob Zuma’s daughter, has made history as South Africa’s youngest chief of staff in the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services. From a public liaison officer to a powerful chief of staff in a record of two months, Thuthukile, 25, now takes home around a million Rands a year.

President Jacob Zuma's daughter

Thuthukile is the President’s youngest daughter whose mother is ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the chairperson of the African Union Commission who was a former cabinet minister.

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“Shortly after Thuthukile completed her undergraduate degree in 2011, she “volunteered” or worked at the headquarters of the ruling party. She later joined the State Security Agency and spent there less than a year,” ANC said.

The University of the Witwaters­rand stated that President Jacob Zuma’s daughter graduated in April 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts degree and received in June 2012 an honors’ degree in anthropology.

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The chief of staff position, which was given to her in May after her father’s new cabinet appointment, has raised concerns over political nepotism at the renamed telecommunications and postal services department.

It seems the position was never advertised, though ministers have the exclusive right to make these appointments without following the normal procedures. Many departments do advertise such positions to make sure that they get the best-qualified candidates.

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Thuthukile currently fills the same position as President Zuma’s chief of staff, Lakela Kaunda, who is regarded as the most powerful senior managers in the government.

According to a statement issued by a government official, majority of the chief of staff are selected at chief director level though ministers can debate for the incumbent to be appointed as deputy director-general, which is the second highest post in the civil service.

“For an upgrade of positions, there is an HR procedure though ministers’ petitions are not often turned down. It is unclear which level Thuthukile is on,” stated the government official.

According to many job advertisements for the post that the Mail & Guardian has seen, a chief of staff needs “an understanding of parliamentary functions and ministerial services to take charge of the entire management of the ministry, extensive management experience and knowledge of the Public Finance Management Act and the Public Service Management Framework.” Additionally, the chief director post needs no less than five to 10 years’ experience at senior management level.

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