Media, Politics

A brief look: Tannie Evita and the Tea Lady

By Carien Du Plessis 8 August 2011

Julius Malema would have been pleased to see how comfortably the woman he had called a tea lady three months before, has slipped into her role. Still, the DA’s Lindiwe Mazibuko swore to CARIEN DU PLESSIS that her tea episode on Tannie Evita’s stage on Saturday night was not rehearsed.

When DA spokeswoman Lindiwe Mazibuko stepped into the bright lights of Gold Reef City’s Lyric Theatre on Saturday night with the grande dame of political satire, Evita Bezuidenhoudt, the attacks on her by ruling party politicians didn’t faze her a bit.

Instead, the words “wardrobe malfunction” flashed on and off in her mind like one of those warning lights in the national assembly that indicate when a speaker’s time is up.

Her act with Tannie Evita involved a conversation between the two around a coffee table, on lounge chairs. All politeness, Mazibuko offered to pour the tea, but what with bending over the low table with her high heels and low-cut top, her boobs threatened to escape.

Her nerves were the reason why the tea-lover couldn’t get beyond her first sip. “I was scared I’d spill it or drop the cup,” she said.

“It was the first time I had been on a stage like this with a theatre audience. I couldn’t see how many people there were, and it’s not like a political rally where everyone is sympathetic to your view.”

She said Evita was such a distinct character from her creator, Pieter-Dirk Uys, “I treated her like this auntie”.

They spoke about Mazibuko’s background, Malema, President Jacob Zuma, DA leader Helen Zille (who has too much on her plate to have time for cooking, Mazibuko said), and about Swazi King Mswati’s many wives (Mazibuko, from Swaziland, said her family used to warn her that she shouldn’t go to town looking too pretty, in case Mswati was scouting for another wife).

Mazibuko’s appearance on the show, following appearances by other prominent women like colleague DA MP Dianne Kohler-Barnard and SAA chairwoman Cheryl Carolus, was part of Uys’s Women’s Day Weekend show, “Desperate First Ladies”, in which he mocked and honoured women in the same breath.

In the other half of the show, Uys’s characters, some old, like Nowell Fine, and some new, like Mrs Petersen from the Cape Flats, kept the audience in stitches. Uys often built a bit of tension by saying things bordering on the political taboo (like Ms Fine’s temptation to say the k-word when faced with hoggish minibus taxi drivers), and then defusing it with a joke (Nowell pulls over and gets a middle finger wave from the taxi driver).

Uys’s cracks, a balance between old and new, remain as sharp as they were in the bad old days of apartheid. The healthy generational mix in his audiences underscores this, although the racial mix (on Saturday night at least) looked more like the DA’s support base.

Mazibuko said despite the nerves, she’d do it again, and wisely so, if one is to believe US politician and gay rights activist Harvey Milk, who said: “Politics is theatre. It doesn’t matter if you win. You make a statement. You say, ‘I’m here, pay attention to me’.” DM

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