LUWELLYN LANDERS has served as an ANC Member of Parliament continuously since 1994, and was born on his grandfather’s farm in KwaZulu Natal, where he grew up. He studied through UNISA, but found that, in the face of heavy demands on his time, it has been more “the university of life” that has been responsible for shaping his career.
Political background: Growing up in the years that I did, it was inevitable that politics was an ever-present concern, and all students in those years were strongly affected by events, particularly those of 1976. I was a member of the Labour Party in the Tricameral Parliament, but in 1994 was elected as an ANC member to the National Assembly. I was chosen as a delegate to the negotiating council that settled the final Constitution and presented it to the Constitutional Court. I have served continuously in Parliament since 1994, and I am one of the few remaining “Class of ‘94” still serving.
What does my job involve? I was a founding member of the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence, although I no longer serve on it. I was also a founder member of, and have served continuously on the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development, and I was appointed to chair that Committee from 2009 onwards. The work of Parliament includes debate on and passing of legislation, public participation, and oversight. Over the years, I have been involved in so many substantive pieces of legislation, often sitting late into the night and over holidays to finalise them. Suffice it to say that all have been vitally important, and that this importance continues in the current work that my fellow Members and I are doing in the justice field. I have served on various other committees during my years in Parliament, including the National Assembly Rules Committee, the Joint Rules Committee, and Ad Hoc Committees.
Highlights of Parliament: I have had the immense privilege of serving under former President Mandela, and working directly with the other great proponents of the struggle to democracy. Whilst we were all idealistic in those days, this was with good reason, and I do not think that our aims were unrealistic. The giants of the struggle, simply by being present, inspired awe and immense respect, and that inspired us all to try to meet the aims of our party and country. As those stalwarts left Parliament, things started to change, and I am not convinced that the changes have always been for the better, or that we all still have that same approach.
Highlights of my constituency work: My constituency of Mariannhill, Pinetown, covers a large area and population, comprising six wards and areas governed by no less than three amakhosi, so I am kept extremely busy! Similar to many other areas, my constituents have a number of socio-economic concerns, so I deal mainly with labour, housing and unemployment problems.
I am passionate about my long-standing interests in jazz and R&B music and soccer - I try to switch off from work when I leave the office.
It is difficult to see myself as others may do, but observing others in action has shown me what to adopt and what to avoid! I do try to maintain an even and balanced approach, and try to exercise a calming influence on others. I am open always to debate and will not be unreasonably tenacious in pursuing a viewpoint.
My message: I was quite stunned, a few years ago, when asking Ahmed Kathrada why he had not visited Parliament more often, to hear him, somewhat cynically, suggesting that it was no longer relevant. I believe the question we must all ask ourselves is whether, and why, parliamentarians can indeed be regarded as irrelevant, and what we have to do to regain our status in the eyes of the “Class of 1994” and the people of South Africa.
For more about Mr Landers, visit his profile.
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