The Nkandla home where Nkosazana has allegedly spent a lot of time these past two years
Nkandla is famous for being the sprawling rural home of South Africa's current No1.
But the woman touted by many as the country's future No1 also spends a lot of time at the compound.
President Jacob Zuma and his ex-wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, may be divorced, but the two are so close that she has a house allocated to her at the Nkandla homestead.
At least five family members, who spoke to the Sunday Times on condition of anonymity, confirmed that Dlamini-Zuma and her children have a house inside Zuma's Nkandla compound. The home is a thatched dwelling at the southernmost part of the complex.Zuma's close relatives also revealed that Dlamini-Zuma had become a regular visitor to Nkandla over the past two years. The couple divorced in 1998.
These revelations come amid expectations that Dlamini-Zuma will lock horns with Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa for the top job at the ANC's elective conference in December.
Zuma is believed to prefer his former wife to succeed him over Ramaphosa. He gave credence to this view by saying, in SABC radio interviews recently, that it was not automatic ANC policy for a deputy to become president. He also praised Dlamini-Zuma for being a leader "before she became a Zuma".
Zuma's recent praise of Dlamini-Zuma contradicts his view of his former spouse in 2007 - when Zuma's group blocked her from being elected deputy president. The Zuma group chose Kgalema Motlanthe over her. In the lead-up to the Mangaung conference in 2012, at which Zuma was seeking a re-election, Dlamini-Zuma's name was raised by some branches as his possible successor. But Zuma recommended that she be deployed to the AU in Addis Ababa.
Now it seems that the two have reconciled. Speculation is rife that the former foreign affairs minister could make a comeback to Zuma's cabinet, which she left in 2012 after her election to head the AU Commission.
Zuma's family members spoke fondly of Dlamini-Zuma this week, saying she had always been part of the family.
"Yes, she has a house that she uses in the complex and it's used by her and her children whenever they are around," said a close Zuma relative.
But Dlamini-Zuma's spokesman, Vukani Lumumba Mthintso, denied that she has a house in Nkandla.
"But the chairperson lives in Addis Ababa, not in Nkandla," he said.
"You understand that she is divorced from the president, right? How can she also live in his Nkandla home? Even the other wives will never allow that," Mthintso said.
"You should be writing about the legacy she is leaving for Africa. Before her, there was no vision for Africa, but today there is 50% women representation at the AU. Let's write about what Africa has achieved. This is not going to help us. Think of it: Nkandla and Africa," said Mthintso.
He refused to confirm whether his boss ever comes to Nkandla.
But a relative said Dlamini-Zuma was occupying a house initially allocated to the children of Zuma's deceased wife, Kate Mantsho - Duduzane and Duduzile.
The twins spend most of their time in Gauteng, seldom visiting Nkandla.
Speaking to the Sunday Times on condition of anonymity, an adult family member said: "There is no divorce in our culture. She [Dlamini-Zuma] comes here often. This is her home and nothing happens here without her."Dlamini-Zuma's house in the complex is adjacent to that of Nonkululeko Mhlongo, a Pietermaritzburg businesswoman and mother of two of Zuma's children.
It is also close to that of Zuma's youngest wife, Bongi Ngema.
Another family member said Zuma's former wife attended all family functions and gatherings. These included funerals, weddings and family and coming-of-age celebrations.
"The only event she did not attend was on the weekend of the 14th when Khulubuse [Zuma's nephew] was burying his fiancée in KwaMaphumulo, but the big four [wives Sizakele Khumalo, Nompumelelo Ntuli, Tobeka Madiba and Ngema] were there," he said.
Another relative said Dlamini-Zuma had hardly missed an event at Nkandla.
"Sometimes she arrives when the children are there, but last year she came several times and slept over a couple of times. She's often at home with everyone here," she said.
This was confirmed by another relative: "She visits. In Zulu culture there's no divorce. Nothing happens here without her knowing. Even when we have functions she comes and she has a house. Here we still live by traditions. We still practise polygamy."
Apology to Dlamini-ZumaThe Sunday Times apologises to Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for stating as fact in a headline that she had spent a lot of time at President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla home in the past two years (January 29).
However, press ombud Johan Retief dismissed complaints that the story was untruthful, inaccurate and unfair; that it was not presented in context; that the information was not verified; that we did not offer Dlamini-Zuma a right of reply; and that the story unnecessarily tarnished her reputation.
The ombud said we were justified in reporting the allegation that Dlamini-Zuma — who has been divorced from the president since 1998 — had a house allocated for her use in the compound.
However, the ombud said this remained an allegation and not a fact.
Visit www.presscouncil.org.za for the full ruling.