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I get the sense that she is the kind of par­ent who al­lows her chil­dren to wrap her around their lit­tle fin­gers. On one oc­ca­sion, I ran into her at St Ge­orge’s Ho­tel in Cape Town dur­ing a sit­ting of the ANC’s na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee. As had be­come com­mon prac­tice when she saw me, she leaned over and greeted me: “Sawubona, ndo­dakazi.”

I asked how Skhu was do­ing with her stud­ies at Stel­len­bosch Univer­sity.

She sighed and said: “She is fine, but she must stay there, uyangihlupha, when she is not at school. She must rather study for­ever.”

Dlamini may joke that Skhu should re­main a healthy dis­tance away at school, but it’s clear that she doesn’t mean it. Her daugh­ter has been Dlamini’s plus-one at the past two state of the na­tion ad­dresses.

On a dif­fer­ent oc­ca­sion, again at St Ge­orge’s, I found her look­ing over some ANC cloth­ing. “Sawubona, ma,” I greeted.

She gave me her trade­mark look of sus­pi­cion, which sug­gests that what she re­ally wants to say is: “What does this ped­dler of white mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal want from me now?”

But then she grabbed my hand and led me away from the cloth­ing to a book stall.

“No. Young women need to read. You must get a book,” she said.

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