Power play

Khabon­ina Qubeka takes a break from break­ing a sweat for some twists and turns in SABC1’s new po­lit­i­cal drama.

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Ihawu Le Sizwe Sea­son 1 Thurs­days SABC1 20:30

High-pow­ered po­lit­i­cal thriller Ihawu Le sizwe is go­ing to get sA talk­ing says lead­ing lady Khabon­ina Qubeka. “The script drove me in­sane,” adds the ac­tress who burst onto screens as Mu­vhango’s Doob­sie in 2007 (Khanyi Mbau first played Doob­sie from 2005). “It’s what sA needs. This is the de­bate that I’ve been having with fam­ily and friends… po­lit­i­cal free­dom ver­sus economic free­dom. some may not like it, but it makes you think about what re­ally hap­pened af­ter 1994.”


A fan of the shows that Ihawu Le sizwe is mod­elled on – prison break (2005-2009) and 24 (2001-2010) – Khabon­ina says that her char­ac­ter re­search took her into the minds of women in power, both fic­tional and in real life. “Af­ter read­ing the script I mod­elled my char­ac­ter Re­filoe Mkhize af­ter The Fixer’s (2008-cur­rent) Olivia pope for her abil­ity to con­nect the dots, as well as sA public pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela for her calm ap­proach to a res­o­lu­tion once the truth has been un­cov­ered and a prob­lem is iden­ti­fied,” she says. “I like Thuli be­cause she finds no need to be loud and make a noise be­cause it is what it is – the truth.”


Al­though Khabon­ina finds it re­fresh­ing play­ing a char­ac­ter who isn’t de­vi­ous and con­niv­ing like Doob­sie or her char­ac­ter Max­ine on The wild (2011-2013), she has a hard time con­nect­ing with Re­filoe, mainly be­cause she finds her char­ac­ter emo­tion­less. “There’s a scene where I want to com­fort some­one who’s cry­ing, but I can’t. Re­filoe is the kind of woman who will watch you cry and just walk away, un­moved. That was dif­fi­cult for me be­cause I’m the com­plete op­po­site.” but some­thing Khabon­ina does love about Re­filoe is that she needs less time in wardrobe and make-up. “pow­er­dress­ing and min­i­mal make-up means that Re­filoe gets to be real and not fuss about the way she looks and she can fo­cus on her job,” Khabon­ina adds.


“some­times the truth needs to be forced out,” says the ac­tress. “And when it comes out, it de­stroys.” Much like the in­spi­ra­tion be­hind Re­filoe, Khabon­ina’s char­ac­ter must un­cover the truth, no mat­ter how ugly it may be. “A lot of politi­cians are go­ing to be glued to their screens.”

but while Re­filoe emerges vic­to­ri­ous in the pro­fes­sional bat­tle­field, her home life leaves much to be de­sired. Al­though the show fo­cuses more on her pro­fes­sional life, a peek into Re­filoe’s mar­riage paints a pic­ture of tox­i­c­ity on the home­front. Re­filoe gets mar­ried at the be­gin­ning of the show (on 17 July) and while she’s on hon­ey­moon, the bad guys at her work – pAsA (prose­cut­ing Au­thor­ity of south Africa, a fic­tional ver­sion of the Na­tional pros­e­cu­tion Au­thor­ity) – get in­volved in some bad stuff re­lat­ing to phD stu­dent sihle Dlamini (Tumi Ngumla). “You won’t see a lot of Re­filoe’s per­sonal life. she’s like me, I like it when peo­ple ask about my job and don’t en­ter­tain ques­tions about my pri­vate life. I like it be­cause my work is at the fore­front of ev­ery­thing I do.”

Khabon­ina’s all busi­ness with her new role.

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