Ndebele the diplomat

2014-10-06 00:00

ONE of KwaZulu-Natal’s leading politicians, Sbu Ndebele, is gearing up for a diplomatic post in Australia.

Ndebele confirmed that he had been appointed to be South Africa’s high commissioner to Australia in Canberra.

News of his appointment was published in a City Press report yesterday.

Ndebele will replace Koleka Mqulwana.

He joins a list of newly appointed ambassadors who include former chairperson of the National Council of Provinces Mninwa Mahlangu, former spy boss Dennis Dlomo, businesswoman Zindzi Mandela, former chief of state protocol Bruce Koloane and Cope MP Smuts Ngonyama.

Speaking from his Durban North home yesterday, Nedebele, a former premier and cabinet minister, said for him, home is where his wife and his books are.

The family is leaving in December.

Ndebele said: “I am taking my wife, Zama, and two of my kids. My son Zwelonke is doing his second year in university and my daughter, Ntandoyabantu, is doing Grade 11.”

Ndebele said he is shipping everything to Australia.

He is currently the chancellor of the University of Zululand. His term ends in May next year.

Ndebele’s daughter, Nombuso, said: “I am both happy and sad for my family because I am staying behind. It hasn’t really sunk in yet.”

She said she has to stay behind to manage her hair business, Phophotha.

“My mom is both excited and nervous, obviously, because she is worried about leaving everything behind,” she said.

Ndebele was informed about the post at the end of July. “I must say, it’s a welcome change. In August we began the diplomatic orientation,” said Ndebele.

“Being an ambassador means that you have to acquaint yourself with issues facing the country. You need to know the country’s issues very well. So when they ask you about South Africa’s thoughts on T.B. Joshua, you need to know because you represent the president and the country,” said Ndebele.

“This is the first time for me. I have been in the executive for 20 years and I have never lived outside the country but we will be fine.

“We will be concentrating on the blue economy because we are members of the Indian Ocean Rim Association. The blue economy is important in terms of getting new resources in the sea,” said Ndebele.

He said the team was mandated to promote economic diplomacy, among other things.

“Australia has many interests in South Africa. They are a big trading partner. We also need to attract new investment in the mining and agriculture sectors.”

• amanda.khoza@witness.co.za.

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