A large wooden desk dominates the modestly furnished third-floor office in Parliament in Cape Town.
Framed degrees hang on the wall, old law books occupy a bookshelf and the noticeboard is covered with news clippings and magazine covers – not quite the workplace of a ‘‘tea girl’’.
This is the office of Democratic Alliance (DA) national spokeswoman Lindiwe Mazibuko (31), a woman ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema recently called DA leader Helen Zille’s ‘‘tea girl’’ when he refused to debate with her live on TV.
Mazibuko was livid.
‘‘Malema lives a life of luxury from riding on the coat-tails of other politicians,’’ she says. ‘‘He thrives on shouting obscenities and I think it’s time people started ignoring him.’’
Then she sips from her cup and quips, ‘‘Besides, I’m more of a coffee girl.’’
She’s been accused of not being able to identify with township people because she isn’t ‘‘black enough’’ but, she insists, ‘‘blackness isn’t defined by your income level’’.
SA’s diverse black people aren’t a homogenous group, she explains. ‘‘Black people come in all shapes, sizes and colours. We should be celebrating our uniqueness instead of pointing out differences.’’
Her posh accent is often used to suggest she’s out of touch with ordinary people, which irks Mazibuko.
‘‘Yes, I went to a private school . . . but I grew up in a township, speaking Zulu. The way I talk shouldn’t make people doubt my heritage.
‘‘I’m in politics because I want to use my platform for good. If being poor is a prerequisite for a career in politics then surely half the cabinet would be jobless!’’
She’s aware of talk that she’s being groomed to take over from Helen Zille as DA leader and hints, ‘‘If a more senior position comes up I will certainly throw my hat in the ring.’’
Read more about Lindiwe's aims and objectives in YOU, 2 June 2011. CLICK HERE to follow us on Twitter.