What is your political background? I was exposed to student politics from as far back as 1976 at Morris Isaacson High School in Soweto where Mr Tsietsi Mashinini and his leadership cadres were studying. At that time we only understood that Afrikaans had to fall. In 1977 at the first commemoration of June 16th, we then became aware of the school politics context and we became involved heavily. We also participated in community politics such that by 1986 with the formation of civic organisations I happened to be elected to be a chairperson of Mthembu Street committee, adjacent to Morris Isaacson. Every afternoon there would be meetings at Isaacson where the security police would come to raid and dispel the gatherings. All the front doors of the houses in Mthembu were non-existent, because they were kicked down every night by police during raids.
In the same year I started doing underground work for the ANC where I was allocated block D in Jabavu. During the unbanning in 1990 I was also a member of the first ANC branch in Jabavu. I had already made contacts in a place called Swartruggens with a young people’s organisation. I permanently moved there in 1990 where the work of establishing structures of the ANC continued. As structures where been established I was elected Deputy Chairperson of the Swartruggens ANC branch and Chairperson of the South African Communist Party (SACP) branch in the same vicinity. I also became regional deputy secretary of the Western Transvaal ANC structures. Eventually I became chairperson of the Madikwe Region in the ANC which included towns like Rustenburg, Mogwase and Koster between 1993 and 1994. After the national elections of 1994, the ANC deployed me to Parliament.
In 2010 I was deployed to the North West province to coordinate local government election campaigns for 2011, as deputy campaigns coordinator. I was also deployed to the provincial legislature of that province in 2010 and appointed Member of the Executive Council (MEC) for Sports and Culture in the North West for at least two years. Thereafter I returned to the provincial legislature and was appointed chairperson of the public accounts committee in the North West Legislature. From there I became the Secretary General of the Association for Public Accounts in South Africa and thereafter Chairman of the Association for Public Accounts in the Southern African Democratic Economic Community. Since returning I have served on the finance and human settlements portfolios but I have settled as the ANC whip at the Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation.
What does your job as an MP entail? Mondays are constituency days and I am in the North West at my constituency. Tuesday mornings I attend the Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements where I am an alternate member. On Wednesday mornings I am attending the Water and Sanitation Committee. Thursday mornings are for whips meetings and caucus so that all the afternoons from Tuesday until Thursday are dedicated to the National Assembly chamber business. On Fridays I am normally at home with my family.
What is your impression of the Fifth Parliament? There are quite a lot of new members and parties as opposed to the old system that kept a percentage of old faces to preserve institutional knowledge in terms of procedure and decorum. It was very rare before for rules to be used in proceedings as there were conventions that people understood and also knew what the rules contained and therefore there were not as many disruptions as being experienced in the Fifth Parliament. The new portfolios, especially water and sanitation, seem to have an atmosphere of working together for the benefit of South Africans especially since water is a cross cutting function in all departments.
What constituency have you been assigned to you by your party? My current constituency is Swartruggens in the North West under the Kgetlengriver Municipality.
What has been most interesting about your constituency work so far? At some point there was what was called a platoon system of schooling at Swartruggens. It was a group of classes that would be held under the trees until lunch time, where a second and separate group of classes would follow on whilst there was a school which had been turned into a government office block by the previous regime. We had to fight hard to recover that school and to make it a fully fledged high school called Reebone High School.
What are you most passionate about? This applies both in a political/professional arena as well as personally? In 1994 I participated in the first democratic parliament’s rugby team with MPs Bantu Holomisa, Makhenkesi Stofile and Gregory Rothman mixing it up with the then National Party rugby team. That helped us build bridges. Also seeing issues of job creation, challenging as they are in Swartruggens being resolved through bringing development and some industrialisation to that farming and rural community.
What is your message to South Africans? It is very important for government to deliver services to our people, to create jobs and to make the environment conducive to job creation. If one looks at the towns where ANC lost municipalities, it is where young people are unemployed. We therefore have to master the issue of job creation and better communicate state strategy in that regard so that young people can access the available opportunities.
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