How did you become involved in politics and particularly, what drew you to your specific party? In 1982 conditions were terrible in high school - the teaching was poor and the toilets were a health hazard. As part of our school fees, we were forced to give R1 to the IFP and for three years we paid money into a fund to build a hall that never materialised. I was elected by fellow learners to be part of a group mandated to take up these challenges with the principal and parents. This led to us being arrested in 1985 due to a disagreement with school management.
After being released from jail we just continued where we left off and this led to the school being closed after the intervention of school inspectors. But although we had won our demands, we were still behind in our studies for the matric exams. We managed to pass because while we were suspended we were working with other comrades in other schools in study groups.
The Congress of South African Students (COSAS) moulded my early political awareness and then later the United Democratic Front (UDF). I was also part of the mobilisation for the formation of COSATU in 1985. I was leaning a lot about the history of our struggle and about how brutal the Apartheid regime could be. I got a taste of that brutality when my eardrum was damaged by police in 1985 during a strike.
How did you then become an MP for the party? Due to my record as a community activist, the branches of the ANC elected me to the parliamentary list and this was okayed by the leadership the ANC. I have been a member of the National Assembly since November 2010 and have served on the Portfolio Committees on Public Works, Appropriations and Social Development
What is your impression of the Fifth Parliament? I don’t like the way the current Parliament has become notorious for chaos, including disrespect for the decorum that had traditionally been associated with previous Parliaments. We have become a laughing stock amongst our people and others around the world.
Where is your constituency? What constituency work have you been involved in and what interests you most about constituency work? Since 2012, my constituency has been in Eshowe, uMlalazi Municipal area. Through working with the Department of Energy, Eskom, and the local municipality, electricity installation is now about 75%. With the assistance of the former Premier, I obtained a donation of 10 computers for a school in Ward 17 and we partnered with a local Inkosi on programs to fight HIV/ AIDS through cultural teaching of young girls and boys, including circumcision for young boys. We partnered with religious and traditional leaders and have dialogues on their respective roles in the fight against social ills and we built a four-roomed furnished house for a Ward 9 indigent family. When you do work in your constituency, whatever small thing you do, you feel great that you have contributed to making a difference in someone’s life.
What are you most passionate about? I am passionate about politics, because to me it is about changing the lives of people for the better. This is done through coming up with policies mostly focusing on the majority of the previously and currently disadvantaged and implementing them, i.e. putting vision into action.
What is your message to South Africans? I think our people must understand that the damage made by Apartheid is so huge that it cannot be reversed within a short space of time. They need to work with the government and us as public representatives to change their plight. They must never burn the assets built by government because that reverses progress.
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