Question 1: What is your political background? How did you come to join your political party and become an MP?
My first encounter with politics was at university where I was elected to the Student Representatives Council (SRC) of the Rand Afrikaans University (today University of Johannesburg). My husband and I were involved with the Progressive Federal Party in the eighties and I then joined the Democratic Party in 1999. I was elected as a Ward Councillor in December 1999 for the Democratic Alliance (when the DP and National Party merged). In 2009 I was elected as an MP for the DA and was re-elected in 2014 and 2019.
Question 2: What does your job as an MP entail? What do you enjoy about being an MP?
People often don’t realise that being an MP entails much more than sitting in plenaries in Parliament. Much of the work is done in committees and then you also have a constituency that you have to work with Councillors and voters. It therefore means that it is not a 9 to 5 job and that you work in Parliament during the week, and then set off to your constituency where you work during the weekends as well as Mondays.
In Parliament you are assigned a portfolio or specific committee and your role is to ensure that proper oversight is done on the executive and its entities. Another important facet of the work of an MP is to deal with legislation and to ensure that legislation complies with all prescripts and is constitutional. I enjoy the legislative part of my work and I find the process of drafting and considering legislation very interesting.
Question 3: What are your or your party's aspirations/plans for the Sixth Parliament?
Our goal is to keep the Executive accountable and in so doing protect the interests of the citizens of the country. Furthermore, our aim is also to promote DA’s policies by means of legislation.
Question 4: What obstacles prevent Parliament from doing its work and how would you fix it?
One of the main problems is the lack of commitment by the ruling party in terms of the processes of Parliament. This can be seen in the poor attendance of committees and plenaries. Cabinet members do not take Parliament seriously. It has been a problem in the past few Parliaments that Ministers are not available for Members’ statements and questions. This inhibits Parliament from holding the Executive to account. This can be fixed by the Leader of Government Business- making sure that Ministers are present to account. Parliament has also suffered in the past few years regarding the operational side due to problems with its former Secretary. There is a lack of support staff and hopefully these problems will be addressed with a new Secretary.
Question 5: Which Constituency Office have you been assigned to? Can you give examples of Constituency work you engaged in?
I have recently been assigned to Matjhabeng in the Free State. As constituency head, I provide political leadership in my constituency, but as I am also the Provincial Chairperson of the DA in the Free State, I am also involved in activities throughout the province.
Question 6: Does Parliament do a good job of holding the Executive to account? If not, what can be done to improve this?
My experience over the past more than 10 years in Parliament unfortunately shows that Parliament has not been very successful in holding the Executive to account. This can be seen during oral Question Time as well as when Members have the opportunity to do statements in the House. What we also lack is the opportunity for real debate. There is no real interaction with different views as the process does not allow for this. We should perhaps also revisit the procedure of interpellations. The way in which we deal with questions to departments in committee meetings should also be revised to make it much more robust with proper interaction.
Question 7: Are you happy with the proportional representation system or are you in favor of electoral reform?
The problem with proportional representation is that Members are not accountable to a constituency that elected them. Members are assigned to constituencies by their parties. This has a definite drawback as Members then tend to be more accountable to their party than their constituencies. On the other hand, a pure constituency-based system does have negative implications for smaller parties. It is however perhaps time that the current system be revisited.
Question 8: What can be done to get citizens more interested/ involved in Parliament?
Is this an area where Parliament can improve and if so, what recommendations do you have? What are you passionate about? This applies both in the political / professional arena as well as personally? Although perhaps for the wrong reasons, the live broadcast of Parliament on channel 408 has made Parliament much more popular than it has ever been. I think there is a keen interest among the public of what happens in Parliament. However, I believe that there is a need for more education regarding how Parliament works. This is something that Parliament could focus on. I am passionate about making sure that each and every South African has access to opportunities to improve their lives. I am also passionate about the wellbeing and safety of children and believe that no child should endure hunger and a lack of proper education. I am also a fervent supporter of animal rights and believe that much more can be done to protect animals against cruelty.
Question 9: What is your message to South Africa?
We can be one of the greatest nations and countries in the world. It depends on us to make it happen, by becoming involved, to be positive and to respect each other and our environment.