It's official: Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is an African National Congress MP again.
The ANC presidential hopeful, former Cabinet member and African Union chairperson was sworn in as MP around midday on Thursday behind the closed doors of deputy speaker Lechesa Tsenoli.
She was sworn in at the same time as North West politician Matthew Wolmarans, who was acquitted for masterminding the killing of Rustenburg councillor Moss Phakoe.
Journalists were milling about outside the office's door, which was flanked by two suit-clad and stern-faced members of Dlamini-Zuma's security detail for about 30 minutes before she emerged.
In the glare of television cameras and cellphones, Dlamini-Zuma was asked how it felt to be back as MP.
"It is going to be a lot of work, but I'm happy," she said.
'They haven't said anything about Cabinet'
She described the feeling as "interesting".
She said she didn't mind to which committee she would be deployed.
"I don't mind any committee, I will learn. Well, everything is my interest. So I will focus on what they say I must focus on."
Dlamini-Zuma's swearing-in comes amid speculation that it will be used as a springboard to propel her to a Cabinet position, but she denied any knowledge about that.
"I've been informed by the ANC that I'm coming here to be sworn in as an MP. They haven't told me anything about that. So, as far as I'm concerned, I'm coming as a Member of Parliament. I've been sworn in, that's all I know," she said before being whisked away with at least four bodyguards surrounding her.
She has barely left the building before the Democratic Alliance released a statement, slamming her appointment.
"The ANC's decision to deploy President Jacob Zuma's preferred successor, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, to Parliament does not bode well for the effective functioning of the Legislature," said DA chief whip John Steenhuisen.
"It is no secret that Zuma is seeking to re-assert his influence over the ANC caucus at Parliament after dozens of his MPs voted in support of the 8 August motion of no confidence in him."
Another Cabinet reshuffle?
Steenhuisen also sees the move as a precursor to a Cabinet reshuffle.
"Those members of Zuma's Cabinet who were outspoken in the run-up to the vote, and those who belong to the rebellious SACP, are certain to be in the firing line," he said.
"Dlamini-Zuma's elevation to MP and likely Cabinet minister seems to be a carefully orchestrated move to buttress her presidential campaign. It amounts to nothing less than state resources being used to support a candidate for the ANC presidency."
Parliament released a statement confirming Dlamini-Zuma's swearing-in, together with that of Mathews Wolmarans.
Dlamini-Zuma replaces Pule Mabe, who resigned, and Wolmarans replaces the controversial Brian Molefe, who resigned after a short stint as MP to go back to Eskom as CEO, but this move was also short-lived.
"As it is common practice in Parliament, the new MPs will immediately undergo an induction programme and be provided with all necessary tools of the trade to assist them with carrying out their parliamentary duties without delay," said Parliament's spokesperson Moloto Mothapo in the statement.