Mr Manuel De Freitas (DA)

Dec. 12, 2016 (6 months, 2 weeks ago)

defreitas

What is your political background? I have been involved in politics for over 20 years. I got involved as a volunteer for the Democratic Party (DP) leading up to the 1994 elections. In 1995 when the first democratic local government elections were to take place, the DP branch I belonged to suggested I put my name in as candidate to learn and to experience the process as a candidate. No one expected me to win, especially me. I was allocated a ward in Johannesburg that included mainly Troyeville and parts of Kensington. We worked hard in the campaign and although we did not win the ward, we grew our support there. Unbelievably I was elected through the PR list. I was the most junior in my caucus and one of the youngest in the City (and probably the country).

In 1999, I was elected as Member of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature. During my tenure at the Legislature I exposed corruption and maladministration in the housing and transport departments as well as in the Taxi Council at the time.

In 2004, I was appointed as the DA Director for the Gauteng East Region. I returned to Council that same year. In 2005 I led a project to build the first house ever to be built and financed by a political party for an underprivileged family.

I was elected as Member of Parliament in April 2009 and served as the Shadow Deputy Minister of Transport until February 2012 from when I served as Shadow Minister of Home Affairs. In May 2014, I was re-elected to Parliament and was appointed as Shadow Minister of Transport, a portfolio which I have the privilege to still hold.

What does my job as MP entail? This is a very difficult question to answer as there is no standard answer. I sit on the Transport Portfolio Committee so I participate fully in all activities. Naturally an MP must attend all plenaries and participate in debates which are applicable to that MP. In my portfolio, I interact with various officials on issues and I submit official questions to the Minister every week on a variety of subjects. This however is only the legislative part of an MP’s job. An MP also has his/ her constituency which he or she has to service.

What is your impression of the Fifth Parliament so far? The Fifth Parliament is very different from the Fourth Parliament as we did not have parties such as the Economic Freedom Fighters in the benches. There was always decorum in the House and the Speaker of the House was always respected. However, unlike the last Parliament under the leadership of Max Sisulu, the present Speaker does not understand or even know the rules of Parliament which greatly contributes to the proper functioning of the House during session. Her bias towards her political party is most unfortunate as it has forced political parties to take Parliament to court. In each case Parliament has lost, because any Speaker must always act in the interest of Parliament as an institution and not in the interest of a particular party. This Parliament has created a double-edged sword: people are now more interested and follow the workings of Parliament much more closely than before, but the good image of Parliament has changed.

Where is your constituency? What has been most interesting about your constituency work so far? My constituency is Johannesburg South which includes all areas within Johannesburg to the South of the M2 highway and bordering but excluding areas such as Lenasia. It is a vast and diverse community covering all socio-economic levels of society. As a result we have the poorest of the poor right to the wealthy with everything in between. This creates a diversity of issues and challenges that need to be addressed.

Constituency work keeps me very busy. I have issues that I am required to address which is very varied and wide: from basic issues such as service delivery issues which the local council, hosting public meetings on local issues that concern the community to meeting local organisations. Politically speaking, my party structures have much to do to ensure that we serve our community as best possible.

What are you passionate about? I am 110% passionate about South Africa and making it the best it can be. This is why I do what I do as I have hope for the future and future generations.

What would your message to South Africans be? We all have a part to play in building and making South Africa better. It’s not just up to politicians, but we all have a responsibility! Let’s build South Africa together!

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