What is your political background? My father was a councillor in Durban from the early 1990’s until 2009. This started my interest in politics as we would often have discussions about South Africa, the political landscape and what my responsibilities as a citizen were. I was probably only 10 or 11 at the time and from there I helped my father in every election and started attending public meetings when speakers from the DA were in town and my interest continued to grow. In 2009, I decided to put my hat in the ring and was nominated and elected as the councillor for Durban North at the age of 24. From there on, I was thrown in the deep end by being appointed as the Chief Whip of the caucus in 2011, holding down a directorship of a business I started in the textile manufacturing industry with my grandfather, as well as serving as spokesperson for various portfolios in the eThekwini Council. In 2014 I was successfully elected to Parliament at the age of 29, appointed as the Shadow Deputy Minister for Trade and Industry and I have never looked back!
What does your job as an MP entail? Trade and Industry is one of the most demanding portfolios in Parliament as it should be. It is charged with promoting the industrialisation of our economy, creating jobs as well as enforcing the regulatory environment to protect consumers in South Africa. So a lot of my time is taken up in Parliament, but I also interact a lot with the business community to hear from them on how we can do things better as a government as well as conducting oversight in my personal capacity as an MP across South Africa. I am also the political head for a diverse constituency encompassing, Wartburg, Richmond and Camperdown where I spend time building party structures, recruiting new members to the DA and driving political change.
What is your impression of the Fifth Parliament so far? It's certainly like nothing I have ever experienced before and compared to the corporate environment, the demands are immense. I think for the last 2 years, fellow Members have been "feeling each other out" trying to see where one another sits on certain issues as well as their ideological positions. I have also come to realise that the ‘show’ one sees on TV is only 10% of what really goes on in Parliament and that the real work takes place in the engine room of Parliament, i.e. portfolio committees. That is why I am so passionate about my committee work because that is where Members from across the House find each other on a large majority of issues and that is why it is critical committees are meeting and functioning so we can truly hold the Executive to account. However, I think that a sense of decorum and respect has certainly been lost compared to the Fourth Parliament for a number of reasons and I believe it would serve both Parliament and South Africa well for this to be worked on.
What is your constituency? What is most interesting about your constituency so far? My constituency is called uMgungundlovu East and encompasses Wartburg, Camperdown and Richmond. It is an exceptionally diverse areas from farmers to farm workers and entrepreneurs as well as many people who have been failed by the government over the last 22 year. I am incredibly blessed to have been welcomed by so many in my constituency as some have never seen a Member of Parliament, let alone a councillor. I have a great team devote their lives to seeing change and real hope brought to those that we serve. I find it really interesting to be able to sit down with a farmer who employs hundreds of people and then in the same day to be able to sit down with a subsistence farmer who is just trying to feed his or her family. I don't take those encounters lightly and try to learn as much as I can from my constituents about their daily troubles and assist where possible.
What are you passionate about? This applies both in a political/professional and personal arena? I am passionate about seeing change in people’s lives. I am a big believer in job creation towards dignity in the sense that you don't have real dignity until you have a job. This is what South Africans so desperately need after years of dehumanisation by the Apartheid regime. I am also exceptionally passionate about my family. They play a big role in my life, are my biggest support and provide a base to always keep me in check and humble.
What is your message to South Africans? The greatest days for South Africa are still ahead of us. Together, we can become a country that works to look after the poorest person and similarly applauds our greatest achievers. Through constant perseverance, kindness towards each other and a belief that tomorrow will be better than yesterday, we can all succeed and share in the joy of that.
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