What is your political background? I got involved in politics when I was 16 years old and still at school. I became interested in politics from reading the newspapers and realised that liberal democratic views made a lot of sense as opposed to the situation where one people had rights while others were being denied of basic human rights or exploited. I think even as a child I have always had a strong sense of justice. I continued to read editorials and books about what was happening in the country and this was around 1974 and 1975 when I was in my early teens. I quickly realised that there was something wrong with the apartheid system and I liked what the Progressive Federal Party (PFP) was doing at that time as they seemed to be modelled on modern western democracy that you find in Europe and North America.
I jointed politics precisely because I knew I could make a tangible difference by talking to people in trying to convince them that our policies work better than the status quo. We participated in the elections in 1989 and although we did not win the elections, we managed to gain 39 seats in Parliament and brought the National Party on the edges of losing its outright majority in the House. Our intention was to convince white people that the only way we could have peace in our country was to have an inclusive democracy.
I never became a councillor before becoming a Member of Parliament as I have always been an activist. I became a Member of Parliament in 2000 for the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) representing Mpumalanga.
What does my job as an MP entail? I am the Deputy Shadow Minister of Tourism and our committee meets once a week. We have one of the more interesting portfolios as you will be aware that tourism is working relatively well in South Africa compared to a lot of other sectors. We are also responsible for doing oversight and this often involves making sure different projects are working well and being implemented. It is also our responsibility to pass budgets that reflect on the needs of the people and making sure that different entities receive adequate budget that will boost economic development in our country.
Members of Parliament are expected to be on the ground and represent the needs of the people through constituency work and this is one of the most interesting parts about being an MP.
What is your impression of the Fifth Parliament? I have been involved in all terms of Parliament except the first. The fifth term is very different, mainly because the EFF has brought in a new dimension to how we do things. It is clear now that the House gets disruptive very often and we never had security ejecting MPs before.
The DA has grown in every election since 1994 as we have more municipalities and provinces and we recently won four metros. We managed to win with outright majority in Cape Town and we were able to form a coalition without the EFF in Nelson Mandela Bay although they voted for a DA Mayor in Tshwane and Johannesburg. One can see in Parliament that the ANC effectively has to cooperate with minority parties and it is evident in any democracy that the sooner a ruling party has to work with smaller parties the better it up its game in terms of performance and service delivery.
One of the striking features of the fifth Parliament is the fact that there is now a growing number of MPs within the ANC that are asking themselves how it is possible for the Western Cape to produce municipalities with clean audits, co corruption, reduced unemployment and better service delivery. There is a lot of tension within the ANC on how to stop its decline and stopping the DA from growing. The DA is growing because our policies are working, especially for poor people. It is exciting to see that our democracy has advanced to the stage where a party could lose the elections if it fails to deliver.
Where is your constituency? What has been most interesting about your constituency work so far? My constituency is in uMgungundlovu West in KwaZulu-Natal and it consists of three municipalities. I strongly believe that an MP should be hands-on and heavily involved in community issues. I have recently been appointed as a campaign manager for a by election in Maritzburg and this is part of my work as an activist as I love to be on the ground and working with people.
What are you passionate about? This applies both in a political/professional and personal arena? I am passionate about the DA and I dedicated 42 years of my life to this party, including its predecessors. I strongly believe that this country could be the best country in the world and I am passionate about South Africa. It pains me a lot when I see all the other things that are going wrong in our country. Mr Tony Leon once said that “there is nothing wrong in South Africa that cannot be fixed by what is right about South Africa”.
I was massively grateful for Mr Nelson Mandela who set the example in maintaining peace in the country and also the people that had been oppressed for so long, but they were able to forgive and did not seek revenge. I am very passionate about the natural resources that we have in this country and this could be a winning nation.
I’m also passionate about sport, especially soccer and I was a DA spokesperson in 2010 in the FIFA World Cup. I’m a great believer in sport unifying people and my current sporting hero is the cricketer, Mr Kagiso Rabada and these are great models that could build our country.
What is your message to South Africa? I would like to say South Africans should believe in the future of this country and the future of this country will be determined by ordinary people getting involved and showing passion for this country. One person can potentially make a big difference and Madiba is one those individuals that proved this by inspiring people. There is a great future for this country providing that everyone gets together and work towards achieving common goals.
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