The recent furore over the DASO image depicting a mixed race couple got me thinking about DA parliamentary leader, Lindiwe Mazibuko and what she has to offer South African society. Mazibuko’s rise up the ranks within the DA has been hailed by the mainstream, liberal media as a sign that the DA is transforming and presenting itself as a viable alternative to the ruling ANC, with the hope that it will be able to appeal to a larger constituency within the black majority. But what are we to make of Lindiwe Mazibuko and what she offers to South Africa as a whole? Does her rise up the DA ranks indicate a genuine shift within the party that will make it more relevant to South Africa’s majority black constituency? Well, to start with, one has to ask the question: apart from the fact that she’s young, black, articulate and a senior leader within a party that has traditionally appealed mostly to South Africa’s minority white constituency, what transformative effect has Lindiwe Mazibuko had on the DA? Has she introduced any new policy positions that have moved the DA away from its traditional ideological base? Has she come up with any fresh, relevant ideas that would move the DA and SA society forward? Apart from her blackness and her youth, has she really added anything of substance to the DA? South Africa needs leadership that will take the country on a different trajectory through the vision of their leadership, the power of their intellect as well as the beauty and delight of their aesthetic. To use the words of John F. Kennedy,” I believe the times demand new invention, innovation, imagination, decisions.”Has Lindiwe Mazibuko given us any indication that she can offer us that type of leadership as a country? If she hasn’t, then why are we celebrating her political rise as some kind of new dawn? Can Lindiwe Mazibuko do for the DA, what Bill Clinton did for the Democrats in America and what Tony Blair did to the Labour Party in Britain? These two transformative, visionary leaders were able to galvanise their parties, which had been in the doldrums and out of power for years, fundamentally transform and reposition them from their historical ideological stances and most importantly, through this enable them to appeal to a wider voting constituency which they’d alienated historically. This enabled Labour in Britain and the Democrats in America to finally win elections and gain power, after having been defeated consistently for successive elections. By repositioning the Democratic party ideologically and thereby winning presidential elections, Clinton was able to take America on a totally different trajectory in the 90s. Blair was able to do the same in Britain through his “New Labour.” Can Lindiwe Mazibuko have the same effect on the DA and has she given us any evidence that she’s capable of such visionary, transformative leadership? I must confess, I’m not really convinced that she offers the DA and South African society, anything but her blackness and her youth. The DA hasn’t been changed much ideologically and policy-wise by Lindiwe Mazibuko’s rise up the ranks. It’s still the same party, the only difference being that it now has a young, black figurehead to showcase to the South African public. South African society needs a new set of skills, disciplines, ethics, attitudes, focus and commitment. This requires, visionary, transformative leadership of the sort that was shown by Clinton and Blair when they rose to leadership positions within their respective political parties and I’m afraid there’s been nothing so far that has given us any indication that Lindiwe Mazibuko offers us anything remotely resembling that.
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