Dlamini-Zuma’s highly anticipated return to the National Assembly is reportedly back on track and imminent, according to weekend media reports.

The Sunday Times reports that Zuma plans to replace outspoken Nzimande – with whom working relations seem to have reached an all-time low – with his former wife in a bid to raise her profile and secure a win at the party’s elective conference in December.

It’s believed that Zuma wants to boost Dlamini-Zuma’s chances of currying favour with voters by giving her the opportunity to announce the government’s plans to roll out free tertiary education.

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Dlamini-Zuma was reportedly kept out of the loop, with sources saying she found out about his plans to deploy her to Parliament via the media, but her campaign insiders say this has been the president’s plan all along.

It’s widely speculated that Zuma will not serve out his full term if Dlamini-Zuma becomes the next ANC president.

“We spoke about the fact that baba [Zuma] is considering leaving before his presidential term is up, probably after the December conference,” a source was quoted as saying in a City Press report. “He is avoiding this thing of two centres of power, so we need her to be a parliamentarian to take over from him.

“We just need to meet and discuss where she will be placed in Cabinet. Of course, someone like her will have to get something prestigious. Cyril [Ramaphosa] has had a lot of platforms from being in government, so she will also have that advantage now.”

ANC Chief Whip Jackson Mthembu, who allegedly also faces the chop, confirmed that Dlamini-Zuma will be filling the seat of ANC MP Pule Mabe, who resigned last month.

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Dlamini-Zuma previously served as Minister of Health; Home Affairs; and Foreign Affairs.

The Sunday Times also reports that President Zuma’s paranoia has reached greater heights, and that Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s supporters are bracing themselves for a situation where Zuma decides to fight to stand for a third term.

“He can’t trust anyone,” an insider was quoted as saying. “When he endorsed Dlamini-Zuma, he was under the impression that she would protect him. Now he is paranoid. He will stand. He is even telling people he will.”

Sources: Sunday Times, City Press