Lindiwe Mazibuko is a South African politician and Member of Parliament (MP). She is the National Spokesperson for the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Shadow Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform (see May 18th blog on SA political parties). The DA is South Africa’s only major opposition party to the ruling African National Congress (ANC).
Born April 9, 1980 Lindiwe Mazibuko is South Africa’s fourth youngest parliamentarian, a “rising star in Parliament”, and a possible future DA leader. On September 27th Lindiwe Mazibuko announced her candidacy for the highly regarded DA post of Parliamentary Leader. Athol Trollip (fluent in Xhosa) now holds that post which is considered “a springboard to leadership of the DA”.
Today, by publicly endorsing Athol Trollip for Parliamentary Leader, Dene Smuts (Senior DA Member of Parliament) dealt Mazibuko her first major blow since she announced her candidacy for the coveted position.
A 2007 graduate of the University of Cape Town, Mazibuko wrote her honors dissertation thesis on the Democratic Alliance. To complete her dissertation, she spent time researching Helen Zille and her tenure as DA Leader and Mayor of Cape Town. Currently Zille is the Premier of the Western Cape, a member of the Western Cape Provincial Parliament, leader of South Africa’s opposition DA political party, former Mayor of Cape Town, and a former journalist and anti-apartheid activist.
As Mazibuko studied the DA party’s policies and programs of action she discovered they were in sync with her own ideologies and political vision for South Africa.
After graduation she became the DA party’s Media Liaison Officer in Parliament. Labelled a “star performer” by Helen Zille, Mazibuko became a parliamentary candidate in the 2009 general elections, was appointed Shadow Deputy Minister of Communications, and became the DA Party Spokesperson.
Born in Swaziland and raised in Durban, Lindiwe attended the University of KwaZulu-Natal and obtained a BA (French, Classics, Media, and Writing) in 2006 and a BA Honours (Political Communication) degree in 2007 from the University of Cape Town.
She views her position in the DA as an opportunity to put her words and thoughts into action by “rolling up my sleeves” as she puts it. Appointed the DA party’s national media officer after only a year as a researcher she said her involvement in the political process is exhilarating.
In 2008 Lindiwe decided to run for public office. In 2009 she was elected to Parliament. Her constituency is North Durban in KwaZulu-Natal, and she says she is “utterly committed to politics and grateful for the privilege of being able to live her passion”.
“Lindiwe Mazibuko: Change you can believe in, with an accent you can understand. Thus ran a satirical tweet from the parody @aDAvoter Twitter account after the opposition party’s 31-year-old poster girl announced her candidacy for arguably the second most powerful position in the party — leader of the opposition in Parliament, after just two and a half years in the legislature as a Democratic Alliance backbencher and one of the party’s youngest MPs.”
Criticized for her youth and inexperience “she repeatedly refrains from rising to the bait. It would have been easy for her to point out that she can speak isiZulu and Seswati along with her crisp model-C school English. Or to bring up how her parents, a nurse and a banker, sneaked her into a Jewish school to get her a decent education, and how they hid her under a blanket to escape the violence endemic in townships in the eighties. But she chooses not to, and only a Google search reveals those details”.
“Seated confidently between seasoned party leaders Wilmot James (Chief Whip) and Watty Watson (Caucus Chairman), her running mates, Mazibuko cut a striking figure when she announced her candidacy for Parliamentary Leader. Her moment arrived: gone were the loose tendrils of hair and the blue DA T-shirt. She was smart in a fitted black jacket with her hair elegantly pulled back and, the older men flanking her complemented her youthful vigor and famed eloquence.“
“I believe my age is an asset to this party’s leadership,” she told reporters in Cape Town. “The DA needs to capture young voters. In 2014, there’s a whole new crop of so-called born frees (people born after the birth of South African democracy in 1994). The party needs to keep the momentum of a progressive, forward-moving, modern political party going.”
Analysts laud Mazibuko’s nomination, calling it the “battle for the soul of the DA party”.
“She seems positioned to win, but the vote will no doubt be close. To combat her “perceived weakness” (as one MP put it) of inexperience, she’s pulled the clever trick of surrounding herself with veterans.”
DA MP Ian Ollis, Shadow Minister of Labor and himself a relative newcomer, recently noted: “We all start somewhere, without experience.” The DA party is ripe for a black leader. Whether Mazibuko is ready for such “dizzying heights of leadership at such a young age is the question that may well decide the future of the party”.
The election takes place on October 27th, 2011.