South Africa's opposition elects first black parliamentary leader


South Africa's opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party on October 27, 2011 elected its first black parliamentary leader, Lindiwe Mazibuko.


Democratic Alliance

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — South African opposition party the Democratic Alliance (DA) has elected its first black parliamentary leader.

DA spokeswoman Lindiwe Mazibuko was elected over party veteran Athol Trollip, a white man, by 50 votes to 31 in a caucus election Thursday.

Mazibuko, 31, is also the youngest MP to lead a party in parliament, South Africa's Times newspaper says

Mazibuko wrote on Twitter:

So, I am Leader of the Opposition. No more tweeting from Parliament! Thank you everyone for all the kind messages streaming in. :-) xxx 

The DA, under the leadership of Helen Zille, a white woman, has been trying to change its image as an all-white party and take on the African National Congress (ANC), which has ruled since South Africa's first free elections were held in 1994.

While Mazibuko is praised for being intelligent and well-spoken, critics say she is inexperienced, with only two years' parliamentary experience, and just "window dressing."

Reuters says that while she is criticized for her lack of experience, "supporters say her eloquence and intelligence will attract middle class black voters to a still overwhelmingly white political party."

The DA, which governs the Western Cape province, which includes Cape Town, received about 24 percent of the national vote in 2009 parliamentary elections. The party also receives support from the Afrikaans-speaking mixed race "colored" community. 

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