Mr Michael Bagraim (DA)

10 Feb 2017 (4 years, 7 months ago)


What is your political background? I did not come into politics until two years ago. I was the president of the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry and no one was allowed to be politically affiliated as a member of the Chamber. At university I studied political science and two years ago I was approached in my capacity as a lawyer to help with the Democratic Alliance's approach to labour law. I got interested in how the approach worked as I was mostly involved in job creation. I was never involved in politics before and I was 58 years old when I was approached by the DA to become a Member of Parliament.

What does my job as an MP entail? I came here to specifically focus on issues related to labour, labour laws and job creation in the Portfolio Committee on Labour. The DA deployed me to specifically focus on job creation and ways and means of trying to encourage the business community to employ more people and that is what I am doing here most of the time. I spend every single morning right here in my office looking at ways to create more employment. I also have to assist my Constituency with employment opportunities and I conduct oversight over the Executive.

What is your impression of the Fifth parliament so far? I ahve only been an MP for two years, but I am actually pretty excited by how the Fifth Parliament operates. Obviously the most exciting part for me is going to the Portfolio Committee on Labour, because this is what I really love. I wish my Committee could meet more often as I like interacting with the Department of Labour including the Director-General (DG) and commissioners. Obviously, a lot of things are alien to me, because I am not an expert in the rules of Parliament and I consider myself a "backbencher".

Where is your constituency? What has been most interesting about your constituency work so far? I am assigned here in Cape Town under Woodstock, Observatory, Salt River and a little bit of Pinelands and Langa. I spend most of my time in Langa because that is where I do the hardest amount of work and I am pretty excited about that. There are a lot of small businesses in Langa and I am busy helping them seeing how they can overcome some of the labour laws and bad regulations which are holding them back from becoming big businesses in the future. We just had a very successful will outreach where we got people to sign their wills as most people often die without wills and the money could end up not going to their families.

What are you passionate about? This applies both in a political/professional and personal arena. I am passionate about the environment and I am a very passionate vegetarian. I walk my dogs to the mountains every morning and I also spend most of my spare time on radio stations talking about job creation. I am currently working with five radio stations and I do weekly slots on all of them. These radio stations included SA FM, Cape Talk and I also do a little bit on Radio 702. I also do some interviews on eTV focusing on labour laws. I want to see if small businesses can become big businesses in the future. We are not giving enough help to small businesses, especially small black businesses and they often get strangled in their first or second year and no one helps them. There are three big things that are chocking small businesses: access to capital, labour regulations and education. Small business owners need to know basic accounting and how income tax operate.

What is your message to South Africa? My message to South Africans is 'hope' - I am doing everything I am doing precisely because of hope. I have children and grandchildren out there and I have a lot of hope. All the fighting that is happening in Parliament tends to get everyone blinkered. A businessman who is trying to earn a living is not worried about all the fighting that is taking place but worried about putting food on the table and sending his/her kids to school or university. South Africa is the future of Africa and the country is indeed a gateway to Africa as we got minerals, expertise, infrastructure, good people and a quality education system. I like some of the messages that I am hearing from other political parties and quite frankly the National Development Plan (NDP) is a good plan, but only if we can all follow it and implement those goals. There was a consensus on the NDP as a blueprint for stimulating the economy, but the the problem is the implementation of the plan.

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