Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka is a South African politician served as first female Deputy President of South Africa under former President Thabo Mbeki when Jacob Zuma was removed from office a year into his second term after he was implicated in the corruption scandal. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka did not finish the remainder of Jacob Zuma‘s term, she resigned after Thabo Mbeki was recalled by the ANC and was succeeded by Baleka Mbete. She is United Nations Under-Secretary-General and the Executive Director of UN Women.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka
Born Phumzile Mlambo
November 3, 1955
Claremont, Durban
South Africa
Nationality South African
Political Party ANC (until 2008)
Cope (2009 – to date)
Occupation Politician
Husband Bulelani Ngcuka
Children 1 Biological
4 Adopted
Religion Christian

Deputy President of South Africa

June 22, 2005 – September 24, 2008
President Thabo Mbeki
Preceded By Jacob Zuma
Succeeded By Baleka Mbete

Member of Parliament

1994 -2008

Minister of Minerals and Energy

June 17, 1999 – June 21, 2005
Preceded By Penuell Maduna
Succeeded By Lindiwe Hendricks

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka was born Phumzile Mlambo in Claremont township of Durban in the Natal Province of the Union of South Africa – now KwaZulu-Natal province of the Republic of South Africa.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka went to Ohlange High School, a school founder by John Langalibalele Dube – co-founder of the African National Congress (ANC) as South African Native National Congress (SANNC) and his wife Nokutela Dube.

Ohlange High School was chosen by Nelson Mandela as the place where he would cast his vote in the first all inclusive 1994 General Election in South Africa.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka later completed her matric there, at Ohlange High School and went on to study a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Science and Education at the National University of Lesotho.

In 1980 she completed her studies at National University of Lesotho and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Science and Education.

In 1981 Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka lectured at Mpumalanga Teachers Training College.

From 1981 to 1983 she taught at Ohlange High School where she had previously been a learner.

In December 1983 Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka became the president of the then newly formed Natal Organisation of Women (NOW), an affiliate of the United Democratic Front (UDF).

In 1984 she moved to she moved to Geneva in Switzerland to work with the World Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA). While with the YWCA, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka was involved in promoting the development of education in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

In 1987 Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka became director of TEAM, a Cape Town based developmental Non-Government Organisation (NGO).

In 1988 she obtained qualifications in Gender Policy and Planning at the Development Planning Unit at the University College, London.

While director of TEAM, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka was involved with squatter women and African independent churches to promote economic self-reliance and running skills training programmes.

In 1990 she started working for the World University Service South Africa (WUS), a funding agency based in Cape Town, supporting organizations promoting literacy and rural development, and in university outreach to marginal communities. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka was involved in the management of funds donated to development organizations by Swedish and Swiss government development agencies. She started and managed her own management consulting company, Phumelela Services. Phumelela Services was responsible for promoting race and gender sensitive organizational development, general change management, restructuring of institutions and linking change with productivity.


Member of Parliament

In 1994 Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka became a Member of Parliament under the Nelson Mandela administration, chairing the Public Service Portfolio Committee.

In 1996 she became deputy minister in the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), during which time she also was a founding member of the Guguletu Community Development Corporation.

In 1997 Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka  was elected to the African National Congress National Executive Committee (ANC NEC) and served as the provincial vice-chairperson of the ANC Western Cape.

In June 1999 when Thabo Mbeki became the 2nd President of South Africa, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka became minister of Minerals and Energy. During this time she was a driving force behind the government’s policy of creating New Order Mining Rights which ended a period where big mining firms which controlled nearly all South Africa’s minerals reserves, were able to hold mining rights to them in perpetuity.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka’s ‘use it or lose it’ policy created a situation where mining rights became available to a much broader segment of the population including many previously disadvantaged black people.

From February 3, 2004 to April 30 2004 she had a brief spell as acting Minister of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka led the Southern African Development Community (SADC) mission to observe the controversial 2005 Zimbabwe parliamentary election.


Deputy President of South Africa

At the height of Jacob Zuma‘s legal troubles, then President Thabo Mbeki removed him from his post as Deputy President of South Africa.

On June 22, 2005 Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka was appointed her as deputy president of South Africa by President Thabo Mbeki. Shortly after her appointment she was booed by the supporters of Jacob Zuma at a rally in KwaZulu-Natal, an incident that was not covered by the public broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), which led to accusations of bias.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka’s husband, Bulelani Ngcuka, was head of South Africa’s National Directorate of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) at the time and charged with fighting organized crime. It was the NDPP which had determined that criminal charges should be brought against Jacob Zuma.

In August 2005, commenting on the slow pace of the Willing Buyer Willing Seller land reform program in South Africa, she stated that South Africa could learn about land reform from Zimbabwe. This comment caused alarm and drew condemnation from the opposition parties in Parliament.

In February 2006 Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka formally launched the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (ASGISA), and the Joint Initiative on Priority Skills Acquisition (JIPSA) was established a month later to address scarce and critical skills needed to meet ASGISA’s objectives.

On December 18, 2007 at the 52nd Elective Conference of the ANC held in Polokwane Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka lost her position in the ANC NEC.

On September 21, 2008 at 19:30 South African time (17:30 UTC) Thabo Mbeki officially resigned as President of South Africa after being recalled by the ANC, more cabinet resignations followed, among them -Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

In February 2009 during the period of mass political maneuvering in South Africa in the run up to the 4th South African General Election of 2009, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka left the ANC for the newly founded Congress of the People (Cope).


Other Posts

On November 2, 2007 Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka became Chancellor of the Tshwane University of Technology.

In 2008 she founded Umlambo Foundation to provide support to schools in impoverished areas through mentorship and coaching for teachers.

On July 10, 2013 Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka was appointed as Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women (UN Women) by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon succeeding Michelle Bachelet.



Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka was cleared by the Public Protector on two controversial issues. The first when she was Minister of Minerals and Energy  and once again when she was Deputy President of South Africa.

  • Oilgate

During her Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka’s as Minister of Minerals and Energy PetroSA, the parastatal company, made an advance payment of R15 million to a private company Imvume, which in turn made a R11 million donation to the ANC ahead of the 2004 General Elections. It is alleged that Imvume has close links to the ANC. These events have been dubbed the “Oilgate” scandal by South African media.

There was never any evidence that Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka was involved in any way but media reports cast suspicion her way. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka asked the Public Protector to investigate the issue. The Public Protector’s report cleared her. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka ‘s brother Bonga Mlambo was involved with Imvume on a planned hotel project at the time, he was at first alleged to have been involved in Imvume’s oil business. These allegations also proved to be groundless.

  • Gravy Plane

In January 2006 reports emerged that Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka went with her family and a friend Thuthukile Mazibuko-Skweyiya in December 2005, on a taxpayer-funded holiday at the cost of R4 million to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Dubbed the Gravy Plane scandal by the media, and at time when the ANC was preparing to fight local government elections. She asked the Public Protector to investigate and once again she was cleared of any wrongdoing.

The public protector found that the South African security services had decided that because of security reasons a government plane be used for the journey and that Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka had no role in influencing this decision.


Further Education and Honours

In 2003 Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka obtained a master’s degree in Philosophy from the University of Cape Town.

In 2013 she was awarded a doctorate from the University of Warwick (EngD) for her work on using mobile technologies to support Teacher Development in resource poor nations.


Personal Life

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka is married to Bulelani Ngcuka who was the first national Director of Public Prosecutions in South Africa. Bulelani Ngcuka is also best known for being at the center of the controversy concerning the decision to prosecute Jacob Zuma for corruption.