Zuma's bride-to-be 'a glamorous beauty'

By Sipho Khumalo Time of article published Jan 9, 2009

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Those close to Thobeka Mabhija, fiancee of ANC President Jacob Zuma, say now that the traditional handing of gifts from the family of the bride-to-be to Zuma's family has taken place, the couple are set to marry next year.

Friends, former colleagues and close associates of Mabhija on Thursday gave The Mercury an insight into the woman who is set to marry one of the most powerful politicians in the country.

Vivacious and outgoing Thobeka Stacey Mabhija, whose relationship with Zuma put her name in news headlines, was born in Durban in 1973.

At the time, Zuma had already spent years on Robben Island and was reviving ANC underground structures.

Mabhija grew up in Umlazi, where she matriculated at Umlazi Commercial High School.

Friends of Mabhija, who describe her as "beautiful, glamorous and outgoing", said after matriculating, she did odd jobs.

She studied part-time for a BComm at the Umlazi campus of the University of Zululand where she graduated.

She later worked for Standard Bank before moving to Ithala (KwaZulu Finance Corporation) where she worked in the property division.

She moved to Cell C in 2002 where, among other positions, she worked as administration manager.

"Her arrival for work at Cell C in the mornings was always a spectacle as she would be dropped off in VIP vehicles under a watchful eye of bodyguards," said a former colleague, who asked not to be identified.

Mabhija later moved to SA Homeloans in La Lucia where she held an executive position.

However, after going on maternity leave in October in 2007, she did not return to work. She gave birth to Zuma's child, a girl, who turned one in October.

"The two met while Zuma was the MEC for economic affairs and tourism and have been going out for more than 10 years," a friend said.

In 2007, Zuma paid lobolo to the Mabhija family and there were talks of a pending marriage, but he married Nompumelelo Ntuli last January.

Last year there were reports of Mabhija boasting that she was on the verge of being the first lady after Zuma had been elected ANC president.

However, in an interview, Mabhija denied having eyed first-lady status, declaring that she preferred her personal life to remain "private".

Friends say Mabhija, who has since moved out of Umlazi to one of Durban's affluent suburbs, is not likely to live in Nkandla after the wedding.

When Zuma finally marries Mabhija, she will become his fifth wife.

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