Get to Know MP David William Bryant

1. How did you come to join your political party and become an MP?

I joined the Democratic Alliance in 2009 and worked on local election campaigns before starting work as a political support officer at the City of Cape Town. I was elected as a ward councillor in 2011 where I served until 2020 and chaired the portfolio committees on Environment and Spatial Planning; Resilience and Sustainability; and Rules and Ethics. During this time I worked to build local political branch structures for the DA. In 2020 I moved to the National Assembly and was appointed as the DA Shadow Minister for Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment.

2. What is one goal that you would like to achieve during your time as an MP?

To raise the profile of environmental issues in communities and ensure that South Africa is prepared for the coming challenges related to climate change.

3. What does your job as an MP entail, and what do you find challenging/demanding?

As the DA Shadow Minister for Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment I conduct ongoing oversight of the Minister and the department, including policies and other forms of legislation and I act as the DA spokesperson on DFFE matters. I balance this with ongoing political work in my constituency and the development of internal DA policy.

4. Which constituency office have you been assigned to? Can you give examples of constituency work you engage in?

I am assigned to the DA Oostenberg South Constituency which includes Delft, Kuilsriver and surrounding areas. My work in the constituency consists of managing and guiding DA political activity as well as oversight of and assistance with National Government competencies.

5. How do you think Parliament can drive more public participation in policy, legislation and voting?

Parliament should be actively embracing new technologies to roll out public participation processes to more people. Online meeting platforms and smart phones apps can enhance traditional forms of public participation and increase the quality of feedback being received.

6. What are you passionate about, both professionally and personally?

I am passionate about South Africa, which is why I am also passionate about growing the official opposition. A strong opposition is essential to ensure that our fragile democracy is never again captured by private interests or hijacked by radical populism. I have a keen interest in matters relating to the environment and am very privileged to be able to serve as the Shadow Minister for the DFFE. Personally, I enjoy spending time with my family and being outdoors.

7. Which social justice issues are you most concerned with?

The issue of climate justice is currently at the forefront of discussions on climate change and will play a big role in our legislation going forward. South Africa must do all it can to transition away from coal and this will require a nuanced approach to dealing with the socio-economic challenges that will come with the inevitable decline in coal-based industries in many towns. We must do all we can to empower more South Africans to be able to take advantage of the many opportunities that will become available within the green economy.

8. Does Parliament do a good job of holding the Executive to account? If not, what can be done to improve this?

Parliament has not been as effective as it should have been in holding the executive to account, as has been made clear in recent reports. This lack of oversight had disastrous consequences and paved the way for state capture. Fortunately, we had a stable official opposition that was able to eventually expose the capture of the state. It is in the interests of all of us that we continue to build our democracy through growing the opposition so that there is an effective counterbalance to legislative and governance processes.

9. What are your or your party's aspirations/plans for the remainder of the Sixth Parliament?

There are many important pieces of legislation that have been delayed and need to be urgently prioritized. Among these is the Climate Change Bill which is currently before our portfolio committee. This is one example of a piece of legislation that must be driven to completion, taking into consideration the urgency of the climate crisis. As a party we will continue to work towards building the official opposition with the increased prospect of coalition governments in the next Parliamentary term.

10. What obstacles prevent Parliament from doing its work and how would you fix it?

Parliament has faced many challenges during this term, notably the impact of the arson attack and ongoing protocols relating to COVID-19. That said, we must find ways to meet physically on a more frequent basis as it is far more suitable for debate and deliberation. Portfolio committees should also adopt a greater sense of urgency in dealing with important legislation and ensure that all role-players are held to account for any delays or underperformance. The focus must be on “getting things done.”

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