DA defends decision to give Phumzile van Damme a sabbatical

It’s not clear if she will automatically return after a new shadow Cabinet was announced

DA MP Phumzile Van Damme arrives on the red carpet outside Parliament for the 2020 State of the Nation Address. Picture: Kayleen Morgan/EWN

CAPE TOWN - The Democratic Alliance (DA) on Saturday defended its decision to give MP Phumzile van Damme a sabbatical.

The party’s chief whip, Natasha Mazzone, said the DA decided to give van Damme a sabbatical now because the December period was quiet.

“The December/January/February period of Parliament are quite quiet and we therefore felt that this was a very good time for her to have a sabbatical to be able to rest and recuperate and completely concentrate on nothing but her health.”

It’s not clear if she will automatically return after a new shadow Cabinet was announced

Zak Mbele, who was van Damme’s deputy, is the DA’s new shadow minister of communications.

Initially, van Damme said she would challenge the decision but she appears to have changed her mind.

She has since said she would 'abide by the instruction'.

But Mazzone added that even if van Damme objected, her and party leader John Steenhuisen had already decided that should temporarily step aside.

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