Cape Town - Western Cape Premier Helen Zille will almost certainly not return to Parliament to replace exiting star Lindiwe Mazibuko - and seems set to serve out her full term as the province’s first citizen.
Speculation around a move back to Parliament was widespread on Monday in the wake of news that Mazibuko had resigned as an MP, and thus as DA leader in the House, and was headed to Harvard.
However, while Mazibuko’s departure had come as a surprise, Zille was “extremely unlikely” to return to Parliament, as a consequence, a senior DA source told the Cape Argus today.
There was also speculation about the possible existence of turmoil within the DA leadership and that the move to the US was the result of a clash with Zille.
But Zille dismissed such speculation as “bizarre”. In a statement on Sunday, Zille said: “We rejoice with her at receiving this ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity of joining the prestigious Masters in Public Administration Programme at the Kennedy School of Government.
“The DA looks forward to her return, and to her re-engagement in active politics. Both she and the DA will be greatly enriched by her experience.”
Zille, speaking to Kieno Kammies on 567MW Cape Talk this morning, said that before the election, she had offered Mazibuko the position subsequently offered to new DA star Mmusi Maimane.
“I thought she would be brilliant (as Gauteng premier),” Zille said. But Mazibuko declined.
Zille said Mazibuko had undergone surgery during the election campaign - missing about two-thirds of the campaign.
As a consequence, “Mmusi was the face of the campaign, by and large”, Zille said. But this had not been because of any “falling out” between the two, as many have speculated.
Zille confirmed they had initially disagreed on the national employment equity legislation. “But when she saw the regulations, she was completely at one with me”, Zille reported. Mazibuko had agreed, for example, that the proposal to impose national demographics on regions, such as the Western Cape, would hurt the coloured population.
But there was no “permanent rift” with Mazibuko.