Review: Owning the future

Some columns ought to be extended into books while some books should never exceed a 1000 word count.

With that in mind, Owning the future: Lindiwe Mazibuko and the changing face of the DA, I felt, was prematurely written.

Senior journalist Donwald Pressly wrote what he termed “an unauthorized biography” of Lindiwe Mazibuko which frankly was an extension of her Wikipedia page.

Pressly is an accomplished journalist and his writing skill is tight and polished.

However, I believe that while Mazibuko has made tremendous political strides, it is too early to claim that she would in fact “own the future”.

Yes, Mazibuko is young, intelligent and coherent.

She was, if not is, the only parliamentarian to really take on President Jacob Zuma at half his age.

But the fact remains, all her political strides have been documented on the broadsheets of this country’s press.

What Pressly did, was rewrite all those news clippings leaving the reader with little insight in who Mazibuko is.

He gives a needle’s eye’s worth of her early life.

She was rich, went to a private school mad was intelligent. That sums it up.

And as the much celebrated story goes, she met DA leader Helen Zille in university and asked her for a job once completed.

She joined the DA as a researcher, went on to become its national spokesperson and then fought for the role of parliamentary head.

Pressly’s documentation of events is hardly coherent.

It does not follow chronological order- which may not be a bad thing.

However the scattered flow of the narrative would inevitably confuse the reader.

I further believe, as indicated earlier, the book was prematurely written.

Had Mazibuko significantly increased the party’s representation in parliament or perhaps went on to lead the party, the her life would have been ripe to document.

As a political reporter, I have encountered Mazibuko on numerous occasions.

She is ambitious and driven- both outstanding qualities.

I know that, everyone knows that.

What Pressly failed to do was to give the “story behind the story”.

Extend quirky information.

I would be interested to find out perhaps Mazibuko’s thought process when she took on Zuma in 2012 in the National Assembly about the Nkandla fiasco.

Was she nervous?

Also, did Mazibuko have a partner? What was her private life like being in the heart of opposition politics? What did she do on her time off? What are her most memorable moments?

All of the above may seem fickle, but goes a long way in understanding the person behind the heavily polished accent.

People need information they can relate too.

Think Adriaan Basson’s Zuma Exposed. He, like Pressly, used media reports to piece together a subjective documentation of a certain sphere of South African politics.

However, Basson chose his subject well- everyone wants to know about Zuma, he is the president after all.

Imagine if his book was written before the hot Polokwane conference of the ANC- it would have been premature too.

Basson also gave readers intimate information about his subject which we didn’t know of before.

A list of Zuma’s childrens’ names. Something so meaningless adds a lot of depth to a story.

In conclusion, perhaps the redeeming quality of Pressly’s work is his effort to separate his opinion from the discourse- albeit unsuccessfully at times.

While it is clear that he endorses Mazibuko and her ideas, he reserves his right to explicitly endorse a view point as he discusses it.

Owning the future: Lindiwe Mazibuko and the changing face of the DA is published by Kwela books and is available at all leading bookstores.


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