Liezl van der Merwe

Spokesperson, Mangosuthu Buthelezi

Championing the rights of the disadvantaged, Liezl van der Merwe is one of the youngest members of Parliament and serves as the press officer and spokesperson to IFP president Mangosuthu Buthelezi.

Her desire to make a difference in the world steered her towards politics from an early age, seeing politics as the vehicle through which she could be a part of the change she would like to see in South Africa and the world.

At parliamentary level Van der Merwe served on the portfolio committee on women, children and people with disabilities, something for which she has a particular passion.

“While South Africa has made strides since democracy, often the rights of our women, children and people with disabilities are neglected. Our women deserve better and things need to change. I believe that as legislators and as the custodians of the democratic values enshrined in our Constitution, we bear a great responsibility to bring about change for this vulnerable section of our society.”

Also on the portfolio committee for communication, Van der Merwe feels strongly about the role communication plays as an effective voice of the people, and is tirelessly championing the need for transparency and freedom of speech.

“Too often the SABC is used as a vehicle to promote the ruling party, even though as the public broadcaster it should be serving the needs of all South Africans. This is a matter that goes to the heart of how the citizens of this country can freely make up their own minds as to whom they wish to govern them. I believe that the mismanagement of the SABC remains a cause for concern and that South Africans should demand of their public broadcaster that they not be force-fed and manipulated with political propaganda.”

Van der Merwe says seeing the failure of parliamentary processes can be disillusioning.

“It is hard to accept that travesties of justice happen simply because the ruling party has taken a stance on a matter and opposition parties, despite standing together, cannot influence that decision – such as when the Scorpions got axed, or when the Secrecy Bill was passed, or when people are appointed to boards at the cost of better candidates.

“Ultimately, though, this reinforces the notion that our democracy will only be strengthened when opposition parties grow to the point of levelling the playing field.” — Linda Doke