Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was sworn in as an MP behind closed doors in the Deputy Speakers office at the National Assembly building at Parliament. Picture: David Ritchie/ANA

Durban - ANC presidential hopeful Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma has downplayed speculation that she was heading to the cabinet, following her swearing-in on Thursday as an ANC MP.

Dlamini Zuma’s return to Parliament comes five years after she quit as Home Affairs Minister to head the AU Commission.

On Thursday she refused to be drawn on speculation she would soon be appointed to a senior cabinet position.

She said she had been deployed by the ANC in Parliament and there was nothing more to it.

“I was informed by the office of the chief whip and secretary-general that I am coming here to be a Member of Parliament and nothing else,” she said.

She would occupy the ANC benches as soon as tasks were handed to her.

Dlamini Zuma said the ANC would make a decision where to deploy her in Parliament and which portfolio committee she would serve in.

“It’s going to be a lot of work but I am happy. They decide which portfolio committee to go to. I don’t mind any committee, I will learn. It is interesting coming back after five years,” said Dlamini Zuma.

Her return to Parliament coincided with the start of the weekend-long ANC national executive committee meeting in Pretoria.

It is speculated that President Jacob Zuma will have another cabinet reshuffle after the midnight bloodbath in March.

The DA has already complained that the return of Dlamini Zuma will disrupt the functioning of Parliament due to internal battles in the ANC ahead of the December elective conference.

DA chief whip John Steenhuisen said the deployment of Dlamini Zuma to Parliament was a pre-emptive strike by Zuma against ANC MPs who voted against him in the motion of no-confidence last month.

Dlamini Zuma has replaced MP Pule Mabe.

She was sworn in by Deputy Speaker Lechesa Tsenoli in his office on Thursday.

She is one of several candidates to succeed Zuma. Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa is also in the running for the top job as well as Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe and Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu.

The other candidates are ANC treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize and his predecessor, Mathews Phosa.

The race for the ANC top job will be decided in the next three months, with Ramaphosa and Dlamini Zuma leading the charge.

Five ANC provincial chairpersons met in Mpumalanga last week where they discussed the possibility of a single slate and no contestation for the Top Six positions.

Political Bureau