After the name calling....

2014-05-20 08:04

She has been called all sorts of names; “coconut”, “un-African”, “slave”, “spy for the whites” or more accurately “impimpi yabelungu” and more heartbreaking “not black enough”. Let's not forget when she was attacked by the old toppies in parliament for being “inappropriately dressed” when she wore that contemporary paisley dress which was criticised because it ended above the knees. Even though she was given the many labels Lindiwe Mazibuko has been thick-skinned as she seems to have openly and strongly defended her modern-style of politics and her post-racial agenda.

With her energetic and frankness Mazibuko has consistently maintained her role of playing opposition to the ruling party, African National Congress, and pushing through with her anti-corruption and lack of service slogan. Watching her for the past few years in parliament Lindiwe Mazibuko was probably the most noticed mouthpiece in parliament  and in the arena of opposition politics. She was probably distinct because of her age, resilience and because she is the first young black women to have had such a presence in our politics. Watching her you would think there is no stopping her. By now you would think in her own right she has earned some respectability in our politics.

But now we are not sure if this is the case. Now that her leader, Helen Zille, seems to have taken the role of "house master"; making references to Mazibuko as if the young politician is her maid, as if she is the construct of her ideals and the product of her interests. It was leaked this past weekend that Zille told her party's (Democratic Alliance) federal executive meeting that she had “made” and “saved” the young gutsy politician. With our country's unresolved race relations this remark by Helen Zille is a real “Bluenami”and another moemish moment for the Democratic Alliance as it will further informs the views of many black South Africans;  that her party is one which is overly pro-capital and which defends “white interests”. This little squabble also dismisses the post-racial politics adopted by both Zille and Mazibuko as the public (or more specifically Twitterville) are now of the view that there is a master and slave relationship between the two compatriots. If reports of Zille's careless statement are true, it is easy for many to confirm the widespread criticism that the Maimuses,the Mazibukos and the Ntulis of the world are mere pawns and “black faces” to trick black people to support the DA; which to this day some still call the white man's party.

However, there is a bigger issue at hand here, which is the clash of two strong figures. No one can deny that Lindiwe Mazibuko seems to have come into her own over the years. During her tenure as parliamentary leader for the DA we saw a fierceness and vibrant energy which was more edgy than the “careful” and “well-rehearsed” Mazibuko when she was the party's National Spokesperson. Despite the fact that Helen Zille pronounced the young Mazibuko as a “young star”and mentored her at the beginning of her career, we saw the Durbanite coming into her own; filling the void of the ho-hum political atmosphere in our country with her vibrant energy, straightforwardness and frankness. We might disagree with her post-racial views but there is no doubt that in a misogynistic and male dominated political space Mazibuko was a force to reckon with and could stand her own ground. She wasn't just a youngster under the shadow of Zille. She had her own voice and still has her own success of a story to tell. With two centres of power, Helen Zille (the party leader who was slowly sounding like the party's spokesperson) and Lindiwe Mazibuko (the party's parliamentary LEADER who was in the mix of things publicly standing against issues such as Nkandla, e-tolling, the Secrecy Bill and corruption in government) there was bound to be a clash between the figures. The whole thing was evidenced when Zille reprimanded her counterpart for supporting the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Bill and the Employment Equity Amendment Bill. The contradictions between the two revealed the chasm between the two party leaders which may have been a sign of factionalism within the party. So, it is not hard for us, the public, to see that Zille may have been threated by Mazibuko's obvious dominance in party politics.

It's a pity that even after a successful 3 year old campaign in parliament Mazibuko can't unstrap herself from the namecalling and insults. Now she is "made" and has been "saved", by a white woman nogal. We now know that the smart  Mazibuko is leaving the party to further her studies at Harvard University. Despite this being a great feat for the young lady it has been highly politicised and attention on this achievement has been reverted back to dirty politics.The usual trend of abuse has been going on on social media, the various "predictive" columns are detailed and lengthy on the divisions in the party and the jokes keep coming from the public. The fact that here is a black, successful, young and female politician who has been given an opportunity abroad has been completely downplayed. The response from the public of mocking Mazibuko after deciding to extend her education in one of the most hailed universities is disappointing and only reveals the cynical culture which feeds our social commentary and newsworthiness.

South Afiican jazz singer Tutu Puoane, currently based in Europe, wrote on her Facebook status after Mazibuko announced her career move: “Wow! A young black African lady leaves her job to go study at Harvard University and people make fun of her!?!? ***disgusted***” I echo Puoane's sentiments. Personally I have not agreed with many of Lindiwe's views, as our country isn't this utopian arena where blacks and whites live side by side. There are many racial undertones that are bubbling underneath the shaky grounds of our democracy. But I have to say I admire and still value what she represents for future politics in this country. When I look beyond the reservations I have of her and her political party I think she is a sexy politician:  a young woman who represents a new era of beyond cadre-politics: she is beyond-military-jargon. She is a modern politician who styles herself in the chicness of her times, a stern labourer against injustices in this country and a young black woman who has triumphed above our fixed male dominated political environment.

Whatever her reasons are for taking a sabbatical from our politics, maybe we should pause, think and consider this young South African. Yes, we have called her many names and criticised her. But now, let’s take a brief moment. Let’s take a little time, just maybe, to appreciate the vibrancy she has offered to our democracy and wish her well. Not because she is “made” or has been “saved” but because she is one of our own.

twitter handle: @jazz2ben News24 Voices Terms & Conditions.  



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