Democratic Alliance parliamentary leader Lindiwe Mazibuko responded to the party’s leadership polemics on Monday by saying she had become a role model for young girls of all races.
“The demographic of young people I get stopped by in the street most are teenage and pre-teen girls of all races who ask me which subjects they should take in high school to become an MP, and who say they think it is so exciting that I’m a member of Parliament and that my hair looks great,” she told the Cape Town Press Club.
Mazibuko said she did not play the race card in the acrimonious campaign for the parliamentary leadership, but believed it was useful that she was adding to diversity at the top in the DA.
“Young people in particular are interested in the future of this party and identify with and admire members of its leadership in a way that they would not ordinarily have five or 10 years ago.”
She said black voters were increasingly finding “ideological resonance” with the DA and she believed that within the next two elections the party would see a dramatic change in its support base.
“Adding to our diversity is a challenge. The way we engage with race in the DA is a something we have to grapple with all the time.
“I am quite confident that it is a challenge with which we are dealing with with an enormous amount of speed.”
Mazibuko declined to comment directly on the race row surrounding her election that saw MP Masizole Mnqasela warn that it was mere window-dressing that would not fool black voters.
Party leader Helen Zille termed his remarks reminiscent of Verwoerd and he now faces discplinary charges of bringing the party into disrepute.
The DA captured 16.7% of the vote in national elections in 2009. In local government elections in 2011, it won 24% of votes countrywide.
Some analysts said the party had cracked the so-called “white ceiling”, but others pointed out that it had increased its vote share mainly by taking support from smaller parties rather than the ANC.
Mazibuko easily defeated Athol Trollip in the parliamentary leadership election in October to become the first black person to hold the post.
She said on Monday that Parliament had become a “dysfunctional institution” because its role had been reduced to rubberstamping legislation written at the ruling party’s headquarters.
She also warned that the national health insurance would prove an ineffectual way of throwing money at South Africa’s public health system.
Mazibuko said the government already had a similar situation in the education system as it had failed to deliver better schooling despite getting the biggest share of the national budget. — Sapa