Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka has just been appointed by South African President Thabo Mbeki to be South Africa’s first female deputy president, the highest political position held by a woman in the country’s history. Mbeki said that this is “an opportunity further to strengthen the participation of women in the executive” branch, according to the BBC. President Mbeki also appointed Deputy of Trade and Industry Minister Lindiwe Hendricks, another woman, to succeed Mlambo-Ngcuka’s previous position as minister of minerals and energy.
Women’s rights groups, businesses and unions have welcomed Mlambo-Ngcuka’s appointment, citing her competence and previous successes as beneficial to South Africa’s development. Themba Kgasi of the Commission on Gender Equality said, “Mlambo-Mgcuka has shown that she is talented politician and can handle the position she has been thrust into. It sends out a positive signal to other women in South Africa who intend [to enter] politics,” according to Reuters.