Cope's new secretary general rolls up her sleeves

Standing just 1,5 metres tall, the blonde Lynda Odendaal on Tuesday burst on to South Africa’s political landscape with an explosion of energy.

“I’m not a bit intimidated by senior politicians, because I have the interests of people at heart,” the mother of four told the South African Press Association in an interview shortly after her appointment as the second deputy president of Cope.

Born in the Eastern Cape, the green-eyed Odendaal said she “grew up on the factory floors” as both her parents were in the manufacturing industry.

Following a dream, like many other South Africans, she moved to Gauteng as a young woman and climbed the corporate ladder in the business world.

In 2005, Odendaal was appointed chief executive officer of Network Support Services, which is regarded as a Southern African market leader in the provisioning of integrated service assurance management solutions.

“But I have resigned and my full-time position now is to serve my people,” said the 44-year-old in a low-pitched voice.

As a single mother, Odendaal said she understood the plight of women and those who struggled to bring up children without a partner.

Her youngest child is 12 and her oldest is 25.

“My children understand what I am doing and they prefer me doing the right thing instead of sitting at home driving them crazy.

“And just like me they too will learn to be independent.”

Being new to political work, she said, was a challenge but one that she could do well in.

“The people need good governance ... and I’m inspired and very hard working. Going forward I think Cope needs individuals with credibility and leadership.”

At an earlier press briefing, she said it was a privilege for her to serve Cope and her country.

“There is equality for all of us in Cope and we will continue to collaborate with other political parties and enter into dialogue with them.”

With elections around the corner, the English-speaking Odendaal said: “There’s a lot of work to be done.”

Party president, Mosioua Lekota, said Odendaal, like many others, had abandoned “comfortable positions” to work on something worthwhile.

“Lynda helped us a lot and did not hesitate one bit.
She was one of the volunteers who did very hard work quietly.

“In time, her profile will be built, South Africa will judge her on her performance and we have absolute confidence in her ability.”

Sitting between both his deputies at a press conference, Lekota said he was proud to sit next to them and was confident that having more women and people from different cultural backgrounds in leadership would steer Cope to victory. - Sapa

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