What is your political background? What drew you to your specific party? Politics has always been part of my life for as long as I can remember: from choosing a part in a school play, being elected as the grade representative on the Students Representative Council (SRC) in high school and being generally politically aware as a youngster growing up in South Africa in the 1970’s.
I refused to join the South African Defence Force (SADF) in 1978 and left the country. I returned in 1990 and got actively involved in politics following the Boipatong Massacre. I left active politics in 1996 after the Arms Deal was concluded.
In 2005, having witnessed the steady decline of Johannesburg – especially the potholed filled roads, I decided to stand as an independent candidate in the 2006 local government elections, believing that as a non-aligned councillor I could get more accomplished than the incumbent DA Councillor by constructively engaging with the ruling ANC. The DA councillor at the time contacted me and on being asked by me what the party of wealthy white people (this was MY perception of the DA at the time) actually did to help the poor, he took me to the Kya Sands informal settlement where he had reported the city of Johannesburg to the Human Rights Commission (HRC) for failing to provide sanitation and running water to the residents of the settlement who had been there since the late 1970’s. There were election posters on the shacks of DA councillor John Mendelsohn, whose commitment to those who lacked any voice was inspirational to me. I have been a DA member ever since, witnessing the application and practical implementation of policies where we govern that improve not only the lives of the poor but all South Africans.
I served on the ward 96 Ward Committee for Traffic and Transport from 2006 to 2009. I became a Johannesburg City councillor in 2009 and a Member of Parliament in 2014.
What does your job as an MP entail? My role is two-fold. Firstly, as a Member of Parliament I serve on the Telecommunications and Postal Services Portfolio Committee. As part of my constitutional obligation, I play a pivotal role in Parliament’s duty to draft and pass legislation, practice oversight of government departments and state-owned entities that fall under the ambit of my portfolio committee, as well as ensure the active participation of the public in the work of Parliament through information dissemination, stakeholder engagement and public engagements.
Secondly, as a Democratic Alliance MP, I am tasked with driving political activity within my constituency, ensuring growth for the party, engaging with the electorate, communicating the DA’s policy offerings to the community, and for oversight on the performance and activity of DA Councillors within the constituency. I am also part of the overall leadership structure within the Johannesburg Region, as well as in Gauteng provincial structures.
What constituency area have you been assigned to you by your party? What has been most interesting about your constituency work so far? The DA has defined constituencies in which our party’s MPs and MPLs are allocated to undertake the duties outlined above. I have been allocated to the Fourways Constituency, an area that extends from Bryanston, Rivonia, Douglasdale and Jukskei Park in the south to Lanseria and Diepsloot in the north, Woodmead in the east and Malibongwe Drive in the west. I am fortunate to have lived in the Fourways area for the last 15 years so my constituency is my home – I know every inch of it.
The most interesting aspect about constituency work is unquestionably the opportunity to engage with our people and make a visible difference to their quality of life through the work of our councillors who are all held to the highest standards and accountability by the party’s Performance and Development Management System. This ensures that our public representatives not only do the best they can to make a real contribution but are mentored, trained and personally empowered throughout their terms of office.
Highlights of Parliament? Personally speaking, walking in the footsteps of giants that went before me is a great honour and I give thanks daily for the privilege of serving my country and its people. The work of my portfolio committee is progressive and conducted in a spirit of multi-party cooperation, respect and even friendship that transcends party political boundaries while working towards the greater good of all our people.
What are you most passionate about? I am passionate about politics (a strategic game unlike any other), history, law, communication, technology and my family.
What would your message to South Africans be? Nelson Mandela’s “long walk to freedom” began decades ago and continues long after his passing. His work continues as we work towards a society that is just, caring, inclusive and compassionate where every South African has a place to call home with equal opportunities that enable each one of us to fulfill our true potential and be the best that we can possibly be. South Africans are an amazing people and we should accept those things that unite us and move us forward and reject those that seek to divide and take us backwards. Lastly, vote with your head – the power is yours, so use it wisely.
To learn more about this member, visit his profile.