Van Damme accused the party of using her illness to sideline her and vowed to challenge the decision to place her on sabbatical on principle.
“If he [Steenhuisen] wanted to move me as is his prerogative he should’ve done so without trying to control my life & my body,” she charged.
In a series of tweets, Van Damme said she had worked hard despite being sick and would challenge the sabbatical on principle.
“Did I drop the ball while I was sick? No. Even when I was sick, like I do when I am well, did I still outperform many of my colleagues? Yes,” she tweeted.
“I asked for no sabbatical. I determine my health, my doctors determine my health, not my employer.”
It emerged on the same evening that Steenhuisen who was elected DA leader a month earlier had rejigged his shadow cabinet in parliament.
In the shake-up, he replaced Van Damme as the primary member of the communications and digital technologies portfolio committee, in which she had served for years, and demoted her.
“She is the alternate member of the communications portfolio committee. All MPs must focus on their work in the year ahead,” Steenhuisen said on Friday.