Tea with Mrs Z No 4

By admin
03 December 2010

It’s drizzling and cool as we pull into a parking bay at the entrance of Mahlamba Ndlopfu, the official residence of the president in Pretoria. We have an appointment with the president’s fourth wife, Bongi Ngema-Zuma (45) – but first we have to go through security that would probably rival anything the White House has.

Finally we’re allowed to drive down a paved street to the inner checkpoint. Again we are screened and interrogated before we’re eventually taken into the presidential guesthouse.

Workers bustle in and out of offices and we’re met by a butler who leads us down a long passage and into the main lounge.

Bongi emerges looking elegant in a two-piece suit. She has invited YOU’s sister magazine, Drum, to talk about the recently formed Bongi Ngema-Zuma Foundation.

Bongi makes it clear she doesn’t want to talk about personal matters. For months newspapers have been reporting that JZ and Bongi are planning to marry early next year.

But all she’ll say is they were traditionally married in 2005. They have a son, Sinqumo (6) – but how and when she and the president met is a story for another day, she says. For now she wants to talk about her foundation.

“My vision is to see a South Africa where no one loses their life because of a lack of awareness about diabetes. I have seen the devastating effects first-hand,” she says.

Diabetes is in her family – her mom, Prisca Ngema, lived with the disease for 28 years before she died in 1997.

She fishes a blue circle, the symbol for diabetes, out of her handbag and pins it on the lapel of her jacket. She gives me one. “Many people know the red ribbon of HIV/Aids awareness but they don’t know the blue circle,” she says.

“My experience with the disease has inspired me to fight this killer head-on and help people take control of their health. If I share my mother’s story it will give them hope.”

Don't miss the full interview in YOU, 9 December 2010.

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