Doctors order DA’s Mazibuko to rest

2014-03-02 14:00

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DA parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko has been ordered to rest for six weeks after having an unexpected operation on Thursday.

This could be a massive blow to her party’s election campaign as she is one of four faces featured in the marketing, and one of only two national leaders on billboards and in advertisements.

Her ill health will also cost Mazibuko a golden opportunity to get the exposure on a national platform that accompanies an election campaign, which may hinder any bid she makes to succeed Helen Zille as the party’s leader.

Two DA caucus members in Parliament and another party official told City Press Mazibuko has been booked off for six weeks.

The party official said the ailment was stress related. This could not be confirmed because Mazibuko has chosen to keep the details private.

Two MPs said Mazibuko was grilled by Zille during Monday’s special caucus meeting to clarify the party’s position on the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill, which provides for the reopening of land claims.

The party’s more conservative supporters threatened not to vote for the DA should the party support the bill.

Mazibuko went to the doctor for tests that same day.

She didn’t attend Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s budget speech on Wednesday.

Caucus chairman Wilmot James, who spoke on Mazibuko’s behalf, downplayed her ailment but added “it was not a routine operation”.

He said: “She came out of surgery and is doing extremely well, and is busy recuperating and healing.”

Mazibuko has been punted, along with party spokesperson Mmusi Maimane, as a contender for the position of party leader next year.

Zille, the party’s Western Cape premier and presidential candidate, is widely expected to step down as leader at the DA’s congress next year.

Maimane, who is Gauteng premier candidate and whose campaign has been focused in the province, accompanied Zille to the Mpumalanga launch of the party’s campaign yesterday.

Both Maimane and Mazibuko have risen rapidly in the party. Mazibuko was elected DA parliamentary leader in October 2011, while Maimane, who came into the party in 2010, was elected as one of the party’s three deputy federal chairpersons, winning the most votes out of nine candidates.

Mazibuko, who is from KwaZulu-Natal, also has strong support in Western Cape. If all goes according to the party’s plan, its next leader could steer the party into government in future and possibly be a presidential hopeful.

In 2011, the party’s federal council resolved the party should be in government – even if it is a coalition – in Gauteng this year and nationally in 2019.

But it has made slower than anticipated progress in winning votes.

There is also fear in the party the emergence of the Economic Freedom Fighters and Agang could set the DA back in the May 7 polls.

Despite the 2011 resolution that the DA should get 30% in this year’s elections, the party’s tracking polls so far show that its support has peaked at 25%.

The DA won 16.7% of the vote in 2009.

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