'We praise women of valour who stood before systems that could not be crushed,' says Phumzile Van Damme

DA MP Phumzile Van Damme detailed her learning process, her inner strength and praised strong women.
DA MP Phumzile Van Damme detailed her learning process, her inner strength and praised strong women.
Image: Esa Alexander

Just days after getting benched by leader John Steenhuisen, Phumzile Van Damme has shared a tribute to women who came before her and who conquered “a system that could have crushed them”.

“To all my women 'too loud,' 'too arrogant,' 'too opinionated,' 'too aggressive,' 'too domineering.' Too much. You have it in you to look into a fire and smile. Your ancestors endured many painful fires so that you would not have to cower in fear but look into a fire and smile.

“We praise the women of valour who stood before systems that could not be crushed. They too must’ve been told to just walk away and let the system be. It is those women I look [up to] knowing this is not just about me, but many the system is crushing, has crushed and will crush,” she wrote.

Steenhuisen granted Van Damme a sabbatical on Friday last week and cited her health as the main concern.

However, the reshuffled communications shadow minister took to Twitter to slam the DA leader, saying she had not requested the sabbatical.

Van Damme accused Steenhuisen of using her sickness to sideline her.

Speaking to the SABC on Saturday, Steenhuisen defended his decision, saying it was taken with Van Damme's best interest at heart.

“I have had to make changes in the cabinet after my election having inherited a shadow cabinet I did not appoint. It is the prerogative of the leader to do so and has been exercised by every DA leader. This is a decision made in consultation with the caucus leadership and with Miss Van Damme's best interest at heart. I'm sorry she is trying to portray it otherwise,” he said.

In her posts thids week, Van Damme shared that she had tried to “soften” and “shrink" herself but now understood her purpose.

“I stand before it with fearlessness I’ve had all my life and did not understand. It tormented me. I tried to soften. Shrink myself. I now understand what it means when it is said: there are two important days in your life — the day you were born and the day you understand why,” she wrote.

Van Damme made no mention of the DA or the sabbatical, her followers were convinced that she was talking about the party's internal affairs.

Some commended her for being a strong leader, while others claimed she was not wanted in the DA.

Here are some of the responses:


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