What is your political background? I have always been involved in politics from a very young age. I went to university in 1989 and that was the stage in our country when Mr De Klerk started unbanning all political parties like the ANC. It was interesting to get involved in politics although it was volatile sometimes. I have always tried to make sense of what was happening in South Africa despite what the media tells you, as the media also have their own agenda.
There were a lot of people in the minority parties, especially Afrikaners who were deeply worried about what was going to happen when South Africa was entering the new dispensation. I only got involved in politics as a bystander and trying to make sense of everything as I spent my entire life in the private sector and I worked in Canada for a couple of years. I did not migrate to Canada but it just so happened that there was an opportunity for me to work in the country.
I realised when I was in Canada that I got along very well with black Africans who were also immigrants in Canada than I did with white Canadians. I came to South Africa and told myself that I would not just sit back and complain about what was wrong in the country but try to participate in protests and try to make things better. I did some legal work for some of the political parties including the FF+ and I realised then that there is space for a party in South Africa that would look after the rights of minorities. My belief is that there should be a balance when we are trying to redress the imbalances of the past as section 9 of the Constitution guarantees equality. I also realised that the ANC was just going too far in their transformation plans. I got involved in the FF+ precisely to fight for minority rights and bring about equality.
I was firstly elected as a councillor in Johannesburg in 2006 and I took over from someone who had resigned. I became a Member of Parliament in 2009 and it is privilege for me to be here. I did not go through the normal route of most MPs where they would firstly go to the provincial legislature before going to Parliament.
What does my job as an MP entail? My role as an MP is to create laws in our country which is the legislative responsibility of all MPs. I am mostly responsible for the economic sector but I also look at other bills that are being passed by Parliament because I have legal training. It is also our responsibility to conduct oversight over the executive and this is mostly done through attending portfolio committees. I serve in the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry. I have been serving in this Committee since 2009 and we try to find consensus in our Committee as our intention is to ensure that we effectively conduct oversight. It is also our responsibility to represent the needs of the people - not only those who voted for us in our constituency, but everyone.
What is your impression of the Fifth Parliament so far? The Fifth Parliament has been very interesting. The EFF has changed the dynamics of Parliament to a large extent and there is a very violent opposition faction against the ANC. There is sometimes infighting among the opposition parties but in most instances there is solidarity between the opposition against the ANC. Decorum in the House has definitely changed and Members are swearing and shouting at each other. This is clearly something that is new and unnecessary. The Fifth Parliament can be summarised as very tense and violent both physically and emotionally.
There is an interesting dimension now as there are had been instances where our leader has come out and defended the EFF in Parliament when the Speaker or Deputy Speaker overstepped the line. It is also interesting to note that the generic view of the FF+ has also changed from being viewed as a “white party” to the party that is very vocal about poor people and the majority of poor people are black people.
This Parliament also forces us to work together and learn to get to know each other better. We should try and work beyond the “hidden agendas” in order to solve problems in our country.
Where is your constituency? What has been most interesting about your constituency work so far? My constituency is based in Gauteng and I usually assist everyone who would come to our office in Centurion. I find it interesting that there are people who did not necessarily vote for our party but would come to our office trying to get help. I have even been approached by the ANC military veterans who are not getting any response from the party in terms of trying to resolve their problems. I have had people from other African countries that would come to our office in an attempt to address problems in their countries.
What are you passionate about? This applies both in a political/professional and personal arena? I am passionate about eradicating poverty and this can be achieved through pragmatic policies. Our unemployment rate is stubbornly high at 25% or over 35% depending on how you define unemployment. Such a high level is unsustainable, because it creates a revolutionary environment.
I am passionate about ensuring that there is a balance between the majority and the minority in South Africa. There should be equilibrium where everyone can find an emotional, physical and cultural space to feel safe and secure. The transformation policies at the moment are mainly driven through race and we want to push back on that. I am passionate about eradicating poverty affecting everyone, including the increasing number of poor white and coloured people.
I am also interested in space and I did my Masters Degree in International Law specialising in international space law. There is no doubt that the space industry will boom. There are already a number of countries that are participating in the industrialisation of space projects and South Africa is very well positioned to be a big player in that area. The industrialisation of space projects could also help in creating jobs and stimulating economic growth.
What is your message to South Africa? I want to to urge South Africans not to lend their ears to all politicians as they must think for themselves. South Africans should also start making the right decisions on who should be able to lead them. We must also ensure that we get a government that is responsible and able to respond to the needs of the electorate. There is no political party that is without flaws but some political parties have more flaws than others. People should choose the right government in 2019. We need to find ways to better ourselves as South Africans without necessarily pushing for race-based transformation.
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