Finweek English Edition - - INSIGHT: LOCAL -

It’s a Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon and the National Assem­bly cham­ber at par­lia­ment is packed. And why wouldn’t it be? On the agenda is a snap de­bate on the con­tentious land­ing of the in­fa­mous Gupta jet at the Waterk­loof Air­force Base in Pre­to­ria.

As ex­pected, the de­bate is a heated one in which heck­ling and char­ac­ter slay­ing are ram­pant. But there’s one par­tic­u­lar comment that arouses the au­di­ence’s ire when Azapo MP Jakes Dikobo takes the stand to make a speech. “If South Africa was a woman, the Gupta in­ci­dent would amount to rape,” he de­clares. MPs on both sides of the house gasp for breath. But the hon­ourable Dikobo is not get­ting away with the metaphor. From the ANC’s benches Mmamoloko Kubayi (35), deputy chief whip, jumps up and raises a point of or­der.

“I couldn’t be­lieve my ears,” she says. We’re sit­ting in her cosy of­fice in the Old Assem­bly re­call­ing the con­tro­ver­sial state­ment that day. “You know, we’re liv­ing in a so­ci­ety where gen­der vi­o­lence is so ex­treme. I know of so many women who have been vic­tims of rape. And then some­one gets up and makes a state­ment about rape – that’s not on. Peo­ple need to be sen­si­tive. I don’t know if the hon­ourable Dikobo’s state­ment was out of ig­no­rance or if he wanted to make a point. Nev­er­the­less, I felt it was wrong.”

The ANC has al­ways been good at spot­ting young tal­ent and the ap­point­ment of Kubayi to the inf lu­en­tial po­si­tion of deputy chief whip was no ex­cep­tion. Her fel­low MPs hold her in high re­gard and there’s con­sen­sus that she is one of the rul­ing party’s ris­ing stars.

She ac­knowl­edges it’s been a steep learn­ing curve since she be­came a mem­ber of par­lia­ment in 2009. “Hey, I’ve learnt a lot. I’ve had many dif­fer­ent roles – whip (in

Mma­maloko Kubayi

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