Mazibuko to Harvard: Jealousy or damn hatred?


“Facebook can be quite depressing for smart-asses like me when 1 comes across comments that are not well-thought, often accompanied by hatred”, I wrote this morning…

….and little did one know that now former Democratic Alliance Parliamentary Leader, Lindiwe Mazibuko, will be subjected to such seeming hatred on the social networks following media reports that she quit politics to further her studies at Harvard University in the US.

A Sunday Times report claimed Mazibuko’s move came after her “fall-out” with DA Leader Helen Zille last year over its handling of the employment equity legislation. Even if that was to be the reason behind her decision, at this moment – at least in my view – I find such to be very shallow, a suggestion that does not stick at all.

Mazibuko, too, dismissed Sunday Times’ suggestion – seemingly shared by her critics on the social network, including Sports Minister, Fikile Mbalula on Twitter – saying: “I took the decision in September when, during a visit to Yale University with others pursuing high-profile careers, the value of such a break became clear to me. I had considered it before, and believe the decision is the right thing at the right time for the DA and for me, because it will improve what I can offer the DA politically”.

Clearly, this wasn’t enough to many of her detractors. It seems they wanted more than what she gave them: to go and further her studies. They wanted the juicy politics, if such exists, at least when she made her decision. When she didn’t submit to their insinuation that she quit politics due to the “fall-out”, they went on to call her Zille’s tea-lady/tea-girl while others said she was the party’s “rent-a-black-skin” example.

The manner in which Mazibuko is being vilified and unfairly criticized for quitting DA (for now) to pursue her studies at Harvard (even if it were at any institution of higher learning), and coming from her black brothers and sisters – especially from the ruling party or its fans – smacks of the mentality we black people are often accused of by our other successful black peers, known as bring-her-down syndrome. Additionally, the remarks that she’s a tea lady for her now former leader, who, too, appears, to have been caught off guard by Mazibuko’s move, shows, at least in my view, that we black people ga re ratelane dilo tse di dintle.

For them, she’d rather remained a tea lady for the rest of her like some of our MPs; or that she became her leaders’ to-go “yes-bass” pal in Parliament; or that she remained in her seat until she reached pensionable age; or that she rather not further her own career development (probably relying on her political principal?) because they are afraid that if she did she would become one of the up-and-coming “clever blacks” that some of them are accused of by senior leaders in the ruling party. This is what Mazibuko’s critics wished for her.

Their unfounded criticism of her decision to leave politics, even if it is for now, to further her studies appears to be a sin – a sin that has over the years been held by some whites against the majority of us black people because of their fear that we will become smarter, not-dom kops, and clever, among others.

What is even worse, in my view, is their failure to understand that the very same intelligent woman they are now attacking is a role model to many young black African women to whom they always looked up because she’s smart, intelligent, doesn’t suck up to the “its-a-men’s-world” mentality with which our body politics is often viewed.

They further forget that Mazibuko may even be a role model that their own daughters and or sisters look up to. To many of them, they admire her because she goes out there and does “her thing”, strives to hold govt – especially MPs or govt officials, many of whom are members of the ruling party – accountable. To date, Mazibuko has been one of the most effective opposition parties’ member although at times she comes across as confrontational. Now, being vilified in the manner she now is and unfairly so, what does that say to those who look up to her?

Doesn’t that, at least in their view, seem to perpetuate the often held mentality that a woman’s place is to be a housewife, submissive to her abusive partner or that she has to endure, as a woman, any abuse exerted upon her – at times subtle and hidden – by the very same society that is meant to protect her against such abuse (just as every Tom & Dick in South Africa is now attacking her for quitting politics to pursue her studies)?

Given the number of reasons why women, especially, quit their jobs – when I saw the criticism against Mazibuko flooding in – some of them unfounded and very speculative – I wondered what if she had quit politics to spend more time with her family (assuming she was married and had kids) just as other women have done around the world (Gaby Hinsliff, former political editor of the Observer, resigned in 2009 to spend more time with her two-year-old son at the time while others have quit their jobs – some as politicians – for a number of reasons). Even better, assuming she felt it was time she became Mommy, I wondered whether she would have been subjected to the same vicious vilification and unfounded criticism she is today now that she quit politics over her career development?

Instead of being speculative of the reason(s) why Mazibuko did what she did, let us stand behind her and applaud her decision to up skill herself whichever way and whenever she sees fit. This, as she reminds us, is one of the opportunities from which she hopes to become even “stronger, better and more experienced… [because]… in the long run, it is better to come back with improved skills than to dig in [one’s] heels…”

To paraphrase what now racist Donald Sterling reportedly admitted to, I hope this seeming hatred and attack against Mazibuko is not because people love her but are just afraid to admit they do and instead choose to attack her smartness and intelligence just as Sterling did Stiviano’s friends (because he was jealous they would snatch her off him) instead of telling her that he liked her.


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