Newsmaker 2011: DA’s Mazibuko a force to be reckoned with

2011-12-23 10:30

Lindiwe Mazibuko’s successful bid for the position of DA parliamentary leader has boosted her political profile.

Despite being a relative newcomer on the political stage, Mazibuko’s appointment makes her a force to be reckoned with in national politics.

By taking on former leader Athol Trollip and winning, she has somehow managed to silence those who have dismissed her as a token.

ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema famously dismissed her as the “madame’s tea girl” when he was asked to debate against her on television during the local government elections in May. She shrugged off those disparaging remarks.

Neither was the 31-year-old MP fazed when critics within her own ranks said she was too young and inexperienced to lead the party’s caucus in Parliament.

What probably worked in her favour was that she was the party’s face during the municipal polls, along with DA leader Helen Zille and Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille.

This gave her a chance to articulate her party’s policies in many public platforms, giving her a higher profile than most of her fellow
elected public representatives in the party.

Some see Mazibuko’s appointment as part of Zille’s long-term strategy to win over black voters and to shed the party’s historical image as a defender of white liberal interests.

Mazibuko’s first major speech in Parliament was made during the heated debate on the so-called secrecy bill.
She looked straight at the ANC’s benches and said: “If passed, this bill will unstitch the very fabric of our Constitution.

It will criminalise the freedoms that so many of our people fought for. What will you, the members on that side of the House, tell your grandchildren one day?”

Mazibuko obtained an honours degree in political communication from the University of Cape Town in 2007.

She chose Zille’s leadership after party leader Tony Leon stepped down as the theme for her honours dissertation.

Thereafter, she was appointed the DA’s media liaison officer in Parliament.

It remains to be seen if the appointment of black leaders such as Mazibuko and DA national spokesperson Mmusi Maimane will help give the DA the kind of appeal it needs.

And that is the appeal to increase its share of the electoral cake to 30% come the 2014 general elections.

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