Helen Zille with Lindiwe Mazibuko. Picture: Willem Law

Cape Town - Western Cape premier Helen Zille had told former DA MP Lindiwe Mazibuko she wasn't ready to lead the party.

Zille's response during a radio interview comes following a Cape Times article quoting Mazibuko when she spoke at the Marie Claire Power Summit embracing Mandela Day this week.

Mazibuko reportedly told the gathering that Zille had often failed to nurture new leadership, saying the embattled Zille had undermined her and was doing the same thing to Maimane.

On Friday morning Zille responded to the claims, saying she often tells young leaders that it's important to "peak late". 

"When you want to be a politician, for which you need no formal qualification, the thing that really matters is life experience.

"I said to them, 'peak late' and when Lindiwe wanted to stand as the leader of the caucus, after only two years on the caucus, I said I think it's a bit early."

Even though Mazibuko failed to heed Zille's advice, Zille said she had supported the young parliamentarian.

"She was absolutely in her right, and I supported her every inch of the way," Zille said.

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Cape Times