Up-close and personal with the First Lady, Thobeka Madiba Zuma

When asked what the correct title would be when addressing her, First lady Madam Thobeka Madiba Zuma laughed and responded by stating that it depends on the environment. At home its chilled, but when taking on official duties it would be the spouse of the President or Madam Zuma.

There is a level of anxiety when people meet me for the first time but second time around, it's easier and I hardly pick up any anxiety states Madam Zuma. She adds that title makes no difference as long as someone is taught respect when communicating with elders.

The spouse of the President was a former banker before tackling the role of First Lady. She states that her position has no executive powers and being that close to the president, brings about other responsibilities like hosting other spouses.

She adds that her currant role has evolved from a ceremonial role to the realization that even though we don’t have executive power, we as the first ladies are placed in a position of influence – advocating for a certain cause, being passionate and having a voice for the voiceless.

I've always been involved in charity work. Now as First lady, I use that platform to make a difference on a bigger scale.

Thobeka Madiba Zuma, First Lady of RSA

Health should be prioritized states the First Lady - economic growth is important but there needs to be a healthy population first she says.

Employers also need to start caring more about their employees' well-being & health.

Thobeka Madiba Zuma, First Lady of RSA

The female population tends to place themselves at the bottom - there needs to be people in society reinforcing the importance of women says The First Lady.

One of the of the main aspects she re-emphasises is the importance of Governments responsibility in regulating the industry. Inclusivity is an important part of transformation says Madam Zuma. Taking the statement one step further, she states that her concern is around up and coming, small enterprises which find it challenging to access funding.

Entrepreneurship is very important and employment causes an over reliance as there are financial obligations people have states the First Lady.

The criteria is such that if you don’t have security – that’s it. But a black child, where do they get security? Because they did not inherit anything from their Grandparents. They’re under pressure, they need to earn an income because they have just finished school, they need to be employed so it really makes it that difficult for them to have access to capital to start their own businesses. I think Government is doing something towards that but I wish the pace could be a bit faster.

Thobeka Madiba Zuma, First Lady of RSA

First Lady Thobeka Madiba Zuma highlights that the banking sector hasn’t transformed and this is one of the main reasons we don’t see a significant change and improvement with our people.

We can't only look to government. The private sector needs to do more when it comes to issues in public health.

Thobeka Madiba Zuma, First Lady of RSA

Listen to the full audio below...


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