S African opposition elects first black Parliament

Lindiwe Mazibuko, 31, defeated Athol Trollip who had held the position since 2009.

Last Updated: Oct 28, 2011, 00:54 AM IST

Cape Town: South Africa`s main opposition
Democratic Alliance on Thursday elected its first black
parliamentary leader as the party tries to shed its liberal
white image and woo black voters.

Lindiwe Mazibuko, 31, defeated Athol Trollip who had held
the position since 2009, the party said.
"We want to start to capture the hopes and the dreams of
South Africa`s people in parliament," Mazibuko said shortly
after her election by the party`s 83-member caucus.

Mazibuko said she was honoured by her election and
pledged to grow the DA ahead of the next national elections.

"I will do everything in my power to grow the DA as we
head towards the 2014 election," she said.

Mazibuko was elected to parliament in 2009 and is
currently the party`s national spokeswoman.

"I am incredibly excited about the future of South Africa
and the role that the Democratic Alliance will play in
ensuring that every citizen is given a chance to lead a life
they value," she said in a statement.

Critics have cited her lack of experience, but the party
has touted her as a rising star, featuring her image along
with party leader Helen Zille and Cape Town mayor Patricia de
Lille on its campaign posters for local government elections
earlier this year.

Zille, who serves as premier of Western Cape province, is
seen as a close ally. De Lille backed Mazibuko as "an
exceptional leader and a formidable opponent of the ANC".

The Western Cape is the only province not run by the
African National Congress, and in the May local elections the
Democratic Alliance won majority black districts for the first
time.
The DA claimed about 24 percent of the national vote in
May, its best-ever showing.

The party has won plaudits for bringing down crime and
improving public services in areas under its control, but has
struggled to shed its image as a party for whites.

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande has openly
mocked Mazibuko on the floor of parliament as a "coconut" --
black on the outside, but white inside -- a jibe that also
derives from her posh English accent.

She speaks both Seswati and Zulu as well and brushes off
such slights, using her media savvy to stay sharply on the
DA`s message of non-racialism and improving the quality of
governance.

Still, her upbringing differed that of most South
Africans.

She was born in Swaziland, where her grandfather was
the Anglican bishop. Her father was a banker and her mother a
nurse.

PTI