S.African opposition elects first black parliament leader

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South Africa's main opposition Democratic Alliance on Thursday elected its first black parliamentary leader as the party tries to shed its predominantly white image and woo black voters.

Lindiwe Mazibuko, 31, defeated veteran politician Atholl Trollip who had held the position since 2009, the party said.

"We want to start to capture the hopes and the dreams of South Africa's people in parliament," Mazibuko said shortly after the election.

She told the eNews channel that she wants to use her new position to "grow the party and increase our margins and really reach out as an organisation".

Mazibuko was elected to parliament in 2009 and she currently serves as the party's national spokeswoman.

Critics have cited her lack of experience, but the party has touted her as a rising star, featuring her image along with party leader Helen Zille and Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille on its campaign posters for local government elections earlier this year.

Zille, who serves as premier of Western Cape province, did not endorse any candidate in the parliamentary race, but De Lille backed Mazibuko as "an exceptional leader and a formidable opponent of the ANC".

The Western Cape is the only province not run by the African National Congress, and the Democratic Alliance registered an increase in support based among black communities during the local government elections.

© 2011 AFP

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