Siviwe Gwarube appointed DA’s new chief whip as axe falls on Mazzone

18 August 2022 - 08:46
By Andisiwe Makinana
DA deputy chief whip Siviwe Gwarube says 'we must not relent until those who have looted our country for years are brought to book'. File photo.
Image: Jaco Marais DA deputy chief whip Siviwe Gwarube says 'we must not relent until those who have looted our country for years are brought to book'. File photo.

Siviwe Gwarube has been appointed the new chief whip of the DA in parliament, with Natasha Mazzone being demoted to the backbenches.

DA leader John Steenhuisen announced the change to his caucus at a DA federal executive meeting on Thursday morning.

It’s been a meteoric rise for Gwarube, 33, who became an MP in May 2019. She was elected the party’s deputy chief whip in December. Before becoming deputy chief whip, she served as the DA’s shadow minister of health.

Gwarube was appointed DA national spokesperson in November 2020. TimesLIVE understands this role will be resumed by Solly Malatsi who was the party’s mouthpiece for two years between 2018 and 2020. He will do the job alongside MP Cilliers Brink.

The axe fell on Mazzone just under three years after she was appointed in the post, and after months of rumours she would be removed from the position.

She will now represent the party in the joint standing committee on intelligence, the secretive committee that holds the country’s spooks to account — with a specific focus on overhauling the oversight model of the state security apparatus. Mazzone will also serve as a national security adviser to Steenhuisen.

According to sources, Steenhuisen, himself a former chief whip, and a number of MPs close to him have not been happy with her performance as a chief whip.

The Sunday Times reported in April there was a revolt by a dominant group of party MPs who were pressing Steenhuisen to remove Mazzone from her post.

Senior DA MPs, who spoke to the publication at the time on condition of anonymity, said a growing number of party MPs disapproved of her leadership style and qualities.

They said Steenhuisen's allies in the DA caucus had broken ranks with him over his continued support for Mazzone despite the complaints against her. They alleged she failed to provide strategic leadership on certain issues and lacked “gravitas”.

Mazzone was the first woman to be the party's chief whip.

When Steenhuisen appointed her, he said he was hoping to bring stability to the DA caucus. This was at a time when then party leader Mmusi Maimane abruptly left, and Steenhuisen was elected leader of the caucus.

He cited Mazzone’s experience in parliament and knowledge of rules among the factors that contributed to her appointment. “She helped write the rules of parliament, she is competent and knows what needs to be done and that’s going to help manage a smooth transition in this period,” said Steenhuisen at the time.

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