Warts-and-all book on Lindiwe Mazibuko

By Drum Digital
27 January 2014

She has been called a ‘coconut’, a ‘tea girl’, been criticised for carrying too much weight and for a lack of dress sense, but as the elections draw closer she will be the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) poster girl.

And now Lindiwe Mazibuko, the DA’s parliamentary leader, is the subject of a new warts-and-all book documenting her meteoric rise in the party. Author and seasoned parliamentary journalist Donwald Pressly addresses the name calling in his book and where her monikers originated.

“During the debate on President Zuma’s second State of the Nation Address in 2011 the leader of the SA Communist Party Blade Nzimande dubbed Lindiwe a coconut,” he writes. (Coconut is the disparaging term to refer to someone who is ‘brown on the outside and white on the inside’.)

A few months later Lindiwe challenged former ANC Youth League president and now Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema to a televised debate.

Malema’s reply was that he would not enter into a debate with the DA’s “tea girl”.

In a strange twist Pressly believed this was the beginning of Lindiwe’s popularity.

“I would argue that Julius Malema kick started Lindiwe Mazibuko’s political career,” he says, adding that it was after Malema’s comments that she was elected as parliamentary leader of the opposition party.

Pressly says his original title for the book was More Than Just a Tea Girl, or Not Just a Tea Girl, but his publisher did not like the idea. It was probably too flippant as a title for a book about someone Pressly affectionately describes as “one of the big boys” in South African politics, and “out of the ordinary” for a young black woman to become a parliamentary leader of an opposition party.

“She is a unique figure and she is an example of the changing face of the DA,” he writes. “Helen Zille wants the DA to be a rainbow nation party and Lindiwe is a graphic example of this – the result is the party is gaining in strength in largely black communities. This is shown in the numbers the party attracts when it holds meetings in black areas.”

The author says Lindiwe has read the book and offered to make some changes before it went to print.

“There were certain things she wanted to change but I did not change all of them,” he says with a smile.

“Overall I think she is very positive about the book and she said she understood it was my book, not hers, and therefore I was free to express my views.”

- Nomzamo Ngcobo

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