'We are not the same, I am a straight-talker': Phumzile van Damme gets real about politics

01 October 2020 - 14:30 By unathi nkanjeni
DA MP Phumzile van Damme weighs in on different politicians' personalities and styles.
DA MP Phumzile van Damme weighs in on different politicians' personalities and styles.
Image: Gallo Images / Beeld / Jaco Marais

“Don’t expect your politicians to be robots and all behave in the same way. That would be presenting you with falsehood.”

These are the words of DA MP Phumzile van Damme, who shared insights about different politicians' personalities and styles.

In a series of tweets, Van Damme told her followers that not all politicians are cut from the same cloth. She said some are quiet and measured, while others are straight talkers and tough.

“We all have our personalities and styles,” she said. “I’ll use myself as an example. Injustice makes me angry, so I express my anger readily. I am a straight talker. Once I decide there is a problem to fix, I don’t stop until it is [fixed].”

Van Damme said these aspects of her personality have helped tremendously in her job, although she does not pretend to be perfect.

“I am aware of my flaws - some I’ve accepted because they’re useful and others I am working on,” she said.

Van Damme added party member Samantha Graham was a good example of a politician who was “quiet and measured”.

“There is no cookie-cutter model of who a politician should be in personality. I choose authenticity, being who I am. It is being honest,” she said.

Van Damme slammed those who claim her colleagues are “unlikeable”, saying they should not be written off based on their personality.

“Why not judge a person on their work first? Is s/he effective in their job? Yes. Corrupt? No. If you so wish and it matters to you, you can also consider their personalities. But don’t write a person off only on personality.

“Not everyone has charm as a trait, but they are good at their jobs. Not everyone is quiet and measured as a trait, but they're good at their jobs. Not everyone is tough, straight talking [and uses] colourful language, but they are good at their job.”

She ended by calling out the double standards of likeability, and how it is often expected more of women than men.

“We are here to do a job and do it well. Dimming our lights, making ourselves small to ... those that hate strong, vocal, assertive, straight-talking women. You’re just going to have to deal, I’m afraid. And to those who do support and celebrate strong women, merci beaucoup [thank you very much].