After an explosive revelation that she had allegedly been granted a sabbatical that she did not request by DA leader John Steenhuisen, DA MP Phumzile Van Damme has once again taken to Twitter to lament the way she has been treated by the party’s leader.
This after he extended her three months’ sick leave by another three, saying he is concerned about her health.
“He merely informed me. I could walk away, but I choose to stay, and challenge it on principle,” tweeted the MP and Shadow Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies before she launched into a thread detailing her perspective on the issue.
Her current period of sick leave was set to end on 15 December 2020.
In responding to words of support from ex-Gauteng Premier turned Cope deputy leader Mbhazima Shilowa, Van Damme took the opportunity to once again insist that although she has been struggling with her health, it has in no way, diminished her capacity to do her work.
She also took some time out to laugh at some of the reactions to her initial thread about her sabbatical.
In a letter to Van Damme on Friday, Steenhuisen said he would grant her a three-month sabbatical from all Parliamentary responsibilities, ending on 30 March next year, to enable her to focus on her health and to ensure that she receives the “requisite treatment, rest and rehabilitation without the distraction of added stress and responsibility”.
Steenhuisen wrote: “I remain deeply concerned about your health situation and the four chronic illnesses that you have been diagnosed with. I understand that these have become incredibly debilitating for you to perform everyday functions, like walking, due to the chronic pain, vertigo, and dizziness. I also know that you require significant periods of bed rest.”
He said because December and January are fairly quiet periods in the Parliamentary schedule, it would be “an opportune time for this sabbatical”.
He said, although he understood that she was passionate about her work, “I would be failing in my duty as a leader if I did not take cognizance of the pain and challenges you are experiencing and intervene to ensure that you focus on getting better”.
He told a local publication: “I have had to make changes to my shadow 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 Ms Van Damme’s best interests at heart, I am sorry she is trying to portray it otherwise.”