Phumzile van Damme, star of the SONA debate

2017-02-14 23:01

The Tuesday State of the Nation (SONA) debate capitulated a star to the fore. Phumzile van Damme has always had this sense of knowing what the role of Parliament is about, and through and through she appeared wired in fulfilling that role. She is dedicated to the task. This time around during the SONA debates she was more impressive.

The kind of public flogging that Van Damme inflicted on the ANC’s naked torso was biting. Her direct assaults on the ANC, her cutting and penetrating comments, the painting of the ANC in all its moral ugliness were cutting. Van Damme sees the ANC as hopelessly hypocritical and corrupt, an arena in which the powerful take for granted / mistreats the masses of the powerless. And she seethes at the very idea.

All these and other biting words made the chairperson of the session Thandi Modise recoil in horror and shock.

Chairperson Thandi Modise told Van Damme to sit down, and said that in her entire life she has never seen a member of Parliament like Phumzile van Damme.  

What did she mean?

Was she saying that Van Damme lacks etiquette and propriety far worse to all members of Parliament combined? Modise has dealt with powerful heavyweight figures like Julius Malema, people who are brazen and hard core. I suggest that she was impressed by Van Damme’s gallantry and painstaking rigor in describing the many ways in which the ANC is deplorable. She must have been saying inside her heart: This is a good constructive criticism. 

That is the possibility, because it is not true that Van Damme is the worst behaving MP Modise could have ever dealt with in all her time she has been attending and chairing Parliamentary meetings.

Let us look at some few issues that Van Damme highlighted. She talked about South Africa’s savaged poor, the bad conditions in which most black children are learning in run down schools.

Van Damme gave real practical examples. She talked about a school in Eastern Cape where students were learning and writing seated on the cold floor because there are no chairs. And this has been happening for many years and the authorities knew about it but decided not to do anything. It was only when the issue was taken up by the media that the authorities acted.

She also talked about the North West Province where schools are in dire straits while members of the looting class are enjoying themselves in the spirit of recklessness and intemperance.

There is no doubt what carried Van Damme through her meteoric rise within the ranks of the DA at this young age is her uncommon prowess as a speaker. She is a great speaker in all the ways that count. That, and her other gifts, among them an uncommon insight into what is best for the country, an ability to speak about things that resonates with the plights of young black people (that is quality education), and a sense of drama – these endowments defines her self assured and assertive cool character.

Every good parent knows that role models matter. Every time Van Damme takes the podium she serves as a great role model, mentor and source of inspiration to many young black girls out there. Look around the whole Parliament; Phumzile van Damme is the only young black girl in the true sense of the word.

Consider the sheer amount of energy that she put in the work she done during Parliament’s Inquiry into the troubled affairs of the SABC: ever engaged, alert, forthright and impacting.

Trust some South Africans, that there are so brainwashed into party politics that they will fail to appreciate the vital aspects of Phumzile van Damme just simply because she is not ANC.  Just because she is part of the DA to some people she is automatically diabolical, the very incarnations of evil.

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