Cape Town - Head of the Democratic Alliance in Gauteng Mmusi Maimane, who was the party’s premier candidate in the elections, is headed for Parliament where he could replace Lindiwe Mazibuko as DA parliamentary leader.
Mazibuko announced on Sunday she was taking a year’s break from politics to take up a scholarship at Harvard University. This opens the way for Maimane to replace her.
Maimane confirmed on Sunday that he was going to the National Assembly, but said the DA caucus would decide on who would be party leader in Parliament.
“I’m going to Parliament as an MP.”
Asked if he saw being DA leader in Parliament as part of his career path, Maimane replied: “I don’t want to get into announcements.”
Mazibuko, who became parliamentary leader three years ago, told party leader Helen Zille on Saturday she was to take up a scholarship at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
Her announcement came months after a public falling out with Zille in November over the DA’s handling of employment equity legislation.
Former Cape metro DA leader Grant Pascoe, who defected to the ANC last month, said on Sunday he believed Mazibuko had “opted out” before her parliamentary leadership was challenged.
“She’s a brilliant politician and it’s a brilliant opportunity for her to go and study. But there was a falling out with Helen (Zille), there was clearly a rift between them…She’s really challenged Helen and Helen doesn’t like to be challenged,” Pascoe said.
Pascoe believed when the opportunity of the Harvard University scholarship came up, Mazibuko had to weigh up “staying around for another term and fighting it out as caucus leader” or taking up the scholarship.
“It was a wise decision not to get involved in any fighting,” Pascoe added.
Zille said on Sunday she “rejoiced” with Mazibuko over the scholarship, saying that anyone would grab such an opportunity with both hands. Zille said when Mazibuko told her, she had asked her to reconsider, but Mazibuko said it was too late and she had accepted the scholarship. “So I accepted that. She’s not emigrating.
She’s not leaving the DA, or resigning. She’s taking a sabbatical for a year… I rejoice with her and she will come back all the richer for it and the DA will be all the richer for it.” Asked who would replace her as parliametary leader, Zille would not name anyone. “It’s an open system so anyone can stand who is a member of the parliamentary caucus.
So we’ll see who does.” She was grateful that Mazibuko had not announced her intention before the election. “Our opponents would have made a meal of it.” Mazibuko was not available for comment on Sunday.
However she wrote in the Sunday Times that her decision to go to Harvard had been made in September when she had travelled to Yale University as part of the World Economic Forum Young Global Leaders.
She had considered the implications on her career and on the DA and was anxious about how her move “might be interpreted or misunderstood”. “When the time is right I will return to pursue the goals that I have always set myself.
I am under no illusions about how difficult this may be and I expect no favours from the DA in this regard,” she wrote.