Lynne Brown heads to Parliament

Cape Town 15-05 -14. Lynne Brown interview Picture Brenton Geach

Cape Town 15-05 -14. Lynne Brown interview Picture Brenton Geach

Published May 16, 2014


Cape Town - Lynne Brown sees herself as a “softy” but it’s hard to believe a “softy” could survive politics and the noisy Western Cape Provincial Legislature for two decades.

“I am a gentle politician,” she said, while sipping her black coffee at Tashreeqa’s in Crawford, Athlone.

“I have not developed a hard skin but I do not care what people say about me - that you learn.”

Brown has been a chairwoman of standing committees, deputy speaker, speaker, MEC, chief whip, premier and leader of the opposition.

“I do not really fight anywhere but it has really changed my character especially the last five years. You must think I am ... a vicious person,” she said.

In the past term, Brown often took Premier Helen Zille head on in the chamber.

Brown said when she first started at the legislature she would break out in a cold sweat at 4am thinking: “Oh my God, am I going back into this place?”

On Wednesday, she will trade the opposition benches in 7 Wale Street for the governing party seats in Parliament.

“I am 52, so it is… not really retirement age, but I almost feel like I am the grandmama of the legislature. I am ready to do whatever I need to do,” she said.

She said in the first 15 years of the legislature, all the MPLs were working hard to hold the executive to account.

“Now, in the last term, the party runs both the legislature and the executive. So there is no separation of powers.

“There have always been huge battles in the legislature. But a control was placed over the legislature, where the hacks were very powerful on the DA side to protect the executive.

“The DA has managed to close ranks within the legislature and there are very few leakages,” Brown said.

She admitted the ANC in the opposition seats could have done better to hold the DA and Zille to account. “Our numbers were very reduced. We also had enormous capacity problems. We had a lot of first-timers.”

Brown said the two centres of power in the ANC often made things difficult.

She was leading the ANC in the legislature, while Marius Fransman was leading the party in the province while also working as deputy minister for international relations and co-operation.

“That is why this debate between Tony Leon and Helen Zille is so important. If you do not have the leader of the party leading in the legislature, you actually have two centres of power,” she said.

Brown said now that Fransman would lead the party in the legislature, it stood a better chance of being more effective.

She warned against factional fighting like the party experienced a few years ago. “In the interest of winning back the province, we have almost no option but to unite - and to find a unity of purpose.”

New MPLs should “keep their fingers out of the cookie jar”, read everything, work hard and be accessible to everyone.

She said she was interested in pursuing issues of economic participation, legislative framework and education in Parliament.

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Cape Times

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