World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance

Department of Public Information - News and Media Services Division - New York
Durban, South Africa
31 August 7 September 2001

31 August 2001




Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, South Africa's Foreign Minister, was elected President of the World Conference against Racism as it opened in Durban this morning.

Appointed to head the Ministry of Foreign Affairs upon the accession of President Thabo Mbeki, she has held the position since June 1999, following a five-year term (1994 to 1999) as Minister of Health under President Nelson Mandela.

Between 1991 and 1994, Ms. Dlamini Zuma was a research scientist at the Medical Research Centre in Durban. A trained physician, she spent years in exile, working in the United Kingdom and Swaziland before joining the health department of the African National Congress (ANC) -- now South Africa's governing party -- in Lusaka, Zambia, from 1989 to 1990.

Among the first batch of exiles returning to South Africa in 1990, Ms. Dlamini Zuma was active in ANC politics, chairing the Southern Natal Region of the party's Women's League from 1991 to 1993 following a stint as a member of its Southern Natal Region executive committee. She has held various party posts dating back to 1977. Ms. Dlamini Zuma's early political life included the vice-presidency of the South African Students Organization (SASO) in 1976.

Born and educated in Natal Province -- now KwaZulu-Natal -- in 1949, Ms. Dlamini Zuma earned a bachelor's degree in zoology and botany from the University of Zululand in 1971 before going on to study medicine at Natal University. Fleeing into exile in 1976, she completed her medical studies at the United Kingdom's University of Bristol in 1978.

Ms. Dlamini Zuma has four children.

* *** *