Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma File picture: Giorgio Onorati/EPA
Johannesburg - If you don’t want to cross swords with presidential hopeful Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, don't call her “Mrs Zuma”.

This is what a journalist found out on Friday when she referred to the former AU Commission chairperson by that name.

The encounter took place in Stinkwater, outside Pretoria, where Dlamini Zuma had taken her campaign to ascend to the highest office in the land.

The journalist had tried to press Dlamini Zuma for comment on the country's political developments, and an agitated Dlamini Zuma gave her a dressing down, telling her in no uncertain terms that she was “Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma”.

Dlamini Zuma, who had been walking to her car to leave the area, literally stopped the procession and gave the reporter a tongue lashing, telling her that she said she had worked hard to earn the title.

She and Zuma got married in 1982 and separated in 1998. They were blessed with four children. Dlamini Zuma refused to answer “political questions” from the media, and stated matter-of-factly that she was visiting the impoverished community near Hammanskraal together with the ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) to launch their Molo Makhelwane programme (hello neighbour).

Senior ANC leaders, including Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and former finance minister Pravin Gordhan, have recently spoken out against the “rot and decay” within the ANC, but Dlamini Zuma refused to entertain any such questions.

“We are here about Molo Makhelwane, we are not here about discussing ANC leaders I will answer questions for Molo Makhelwane, I will not answer questions for things I have not come here for,” Dlamini Zuma said.

Explaining Molo Makhelwane, she said the programme was about “caring for the next person” and implored those gathered that they must be their neighbours’ keepers, and be concerned about the goodwill of the community.

She quoted from the Bible, saying it implored people to be “your brother’s keeper. As the women’s league, we are saying you must care for your neighbour, be agents of change in our communities”.

Dlamini Zuma was accompanied by controversial Prophet Paseka Motsoeneng, also known as Prophet Mboro. She said it was not a mistake that the ANC was formed in church 105 years ago.

“The ANC and the church are one. Churches bring lots of help in communities. The church and all other religions are part of the ANC. We have to work with them all the time (because they) care for their communities,” she said.

President Zuma, however, caused much controversy in December last year when he told the clergy to stop meddling in political matters as their role was to pray for them.

Dlamini Zuma said the Molo Makhelwane programme was about meeting the government halfway and that it would be launched and “spread everywhere”.

ANCWL secretary-general Meokgo Matuba said they had visited the community to ensure they did not lose touch with the masses on the ground. She hailed Dlamini-Zuma as a “leader in her own right” and as “someone we know we can trust with the future of South Africa”.

Saturday Star