Zakhele Mbhele replaces sabbatical bound Phumzile van Damme as DA's spokesperson on communications

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Phumzile van Damme has been replaced by Zakhele Mbhele as DA's spokesperson on communications.
Phumzile van Damme has been replaced by Zakhele Mbhele as DA's spokesperson on communications.
Jan Gerber, News24
  • Zakhele Mbhele has been appointed as the DA's new spokesperson on communications. 
  • He replaces Phumzile van Damme who has been placed on a sabbatical by DA leader John Steenhuisen. 
  • Van Damme had initially rejected the sabbatical and threatened to challenge it, but later tweeted that she intended to abide by Steenhuisen's instruction.


Zakhele Mbhele has been appointed as the DA's spokesperson on communications, replacing Phumzile van Damme who has been placed on a three month sabbatical by DA leader John Steenhuisen.

Van Damme, who initially announced that she would challenge Steenhuisen's decision, appears to have changed her mind.

She tweeted: "I intend to abide by this instruction. I'm on sabbatical until 30 March 2021 as instructed. The party and I will talk through my lawyers in 2021."

READ |DA's Phumzile van Damme refuses to take sabbatical 'forced' on her by Steenhuisen

DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone confirmed to News24 that Mbhele, a former party spokesperson on small business, had replaced Van Damme.

"Yes, Zak was appointed shadow minister of communications; he was shadow minister of small business," she told News24.

On Friday, Van Damme tweeted: "I have been informed by the Federal Leader of the DA that he is granting me a sabbatical. I didn't request it. He merely informed me. I could walk away, but I choose to stay, and challenge it on principle."

Steenhuisen told Van Damme that he granted her the sabbatical so that she could focus on her health. 

Van Damme told News24 that she suffers from an incurable neurological disorder, which had debilitating symptoms.

Steenhuisen told News24: "This is a decision made in consultation with the caucus leadership and with Ms Van Damme's best interests at heart. I am sorry she is trying to portray it otherwise."

Van Damme had backed Mbali Ntuli in the DA leadership race, eventually won by Steenhuisen last month.

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