Political Background: I have been a member of the DA since high school. I’ve always loved and kept up with politics and current affairs, and I had some excellent, passionate teachers at Edgemead High School who introduced me to politics and economics. When I got to UCT, I got involved in student politics straight away. I actually launched the first branch of DA Student Organisation in the country. Straight out of university, I got involved with the DA doing volunteer work. This progressed to a job on Helen Zille’s campaign in 2009, and after that Ms Zille asked me to be her Chief of Staff. I spent five years as her Chief of Staff, and then I was elected as an MP in 2014.
What does your job as an MP entail? An MP’s main work is in committees, doing research and networking so as to best take advantage of each meeting. I find it very important to stay up to date on current events through reading. Attending meetings and being well prepared for those meetings so as to ask direct, productive, insightful questions is a big part of my job. Sometimes you only see government officials from various departments once a month, so it’s very important not to waste this time. After my commitments to committees, I’d say that I work to identify key problem areas and focus in on them on all fronts, with the media as well as in committees and in the house. I strive to consistently meet with business people and other stakeholders. I currently act as the DA’s go-to spokesperson on trade and industry matters and serve on the Trade and Industry Portfolio Committee as a Shadow Minister.
What are your thoughts on the Fifth Parliament thus far? I’d say that this has been the most challenging session since 1994. This is largely due to the arrival of the EFF to whom the rules don’t seem to apply. It’s a new experience for the ANC and they were not prepared; it has taken a year for parliament to once again begin functioning like a proper parliament. However, I think that at this point the EFF antics have been exposed as exactly that - antics. In order to affect real change, one must keep driving issues consistently and responsibly.
What constituency area have you been assigned to by your party? What aspects of constituency work interest you? I have been assigned the greater Philippi area as my constituency, which has about 150 000 residents. The DA is overwhelmingly in the minority there, so we at the DA view it as a “growth area”. Our main goal is to improve voter contact by reaching out as often as possible and having positive contact two to three times a week. Luckily, I am fortunate enough to have my constituency in the Western Cape, so I am able to visit quite often and conveniently. I help the DA hold Public meetings, activities, and other events that all forms part of our voter contact programme.
My favourite part of constituency work is definitely Open Day or Surgery Day, which I have at least once a month. On a typical Open Day, I’ll have dozens of people come into my constituency office and ask for help on issues large and small, and I do my best to get things done for them. It’s very rewarding to be able to make a real difference and help people; it reminds me why I got into politics.
What are you passionate about? The economy. I believe that the economy and education are the two most important issues for South Africa; if we can improve these two areas, many of the social and other problems we face in this country will be alleviated. If I can work to improve the economy, even over a generation, I can say I’ve helped South Africans live a better quality of life. That is ultimately why I’m involved in politics.
What is your message to South Africans? I really do believe that, despite different political allegiances, most all South Africans share a common vision for the direction and the future of this country. If millions of South Africans want to achieve their vision of South Africa, we need a different government.
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