Zuma's first lady unseated by Winnie

newspic4b7fc5d6d4541 Star First lady unseated: Sizakele Khumalo-Zuma was without a seat at her husband's most important annual political event. Photo: Bongiwe Mchunu, The Star

By Sibusiso Ngwalwa

Political Bureau

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela caused a logistical nightmare for parliamentary staff when she took the seat reserved for President Jacob Zuma's first wife during Wednesday's State of the National Address.

This left officials in a quandary as Sizakele Khumalo-Zuma was without a seat at her husband's most important annual political event.

But even more baffling was that, as an ANC MP, Madikizela-Mandela has her own permanent seat inside the National Assembly chamber.

The President's Bay is where invited guests and Zuma's wives sit. Other galleries are reserved for diplomats, the media and the public.

When Madikizela-Mandela showed up at the bay with her two daughters, Zenani and Zindzi, many observers were baffled.

Parliamentary staff were then forced to tell Madikizela-Mandela to vacate the seat.

Madikizela-Mandela had arrived just after Zuma's two younger wives - Nompumelelo Ntuli and Thobeka Madiba.

The two younger wives took their seats on the front row and left another one vacant, which Madikizela-Mandela occupied.

She greeted Zuma's younger wives warmly, offering each a hug.

A parliamentary official could be seen pacing up and down the gallery before approaching the former first lady who then left with her two daughters in tow.

Apparently the women complained about being ill-treated.

At the time Sizakele Khumalo was walking with Zuma down the red carpet for the official ceremony, which includes the national anthem and the 21-gun salute.

Moments before proceedings started inside the chamber, Madikizela-Mandela resurfaced in the public gallery and was seated next to her former husband Nelson Mandela and his wife Graca Machel.

It is understood that the matter also came up during the ANC's parliamentary strategy meeting this week.

Madikizela-Mandela had not responded to questions sent to her office, at the time of going to press.

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