Mr Michael Shackleton (DA)

Dec. 3, 2018 (1 year, 1 month ago)


What is your political background? How did you come to join your political party and become an MP? I joined the Democratic Alliance in 2008 at the University of Pretoria. In 2010, I became the DA Students Organisation’s Branch Leader at the university and also became a member of the university’s SRC. I also graduated from the DA’s prestigious Young Leaders Programme.

I studied law – which gives a firm foundation for what the job of public representatives in all spheres of government do – and took politics and philosophy as additional subjects while doing my LLB. I now have an LLM in Constitutional and Administrative Law, a postgraduate certificate in corporate law and a certificate in provincial and local government law. I remain a practicing attorney.

I became a councillor for the DA in Tshwane in March 2014 and have occupied numerous roles in the party, such as being on its provincial, regional and federal executives – as well as the federal council. I think that consistent visibility and commitment to the cause assisted with building a profile within the party. I was sworn in as an MP on 11 September 2018.

What does your job as an MP entail? We have constituency work and legislative work. I am the DA constituency leader for Hammanskraal, where I oversee numerous councilors and branches. We boost political activity in the area and remain accountable to voters regarding service delivery.

In the legislative arena I sit on 2 parliamentary committees – the Auditor-General and Appropriations. The plenary sessions of Parliament are where the decisions to assent to the passing of laws or the amendment thereof, are taken.

What obstacles prevent Parliament from doing its work and how would you fix it? Perhaps training to new members could be looked into to maximise all MPs doing their work. I understand that there is an induction given at the beginning of every 5-year term, but if one comes in during the term then there is no training or induction. There is also a significant backlog in the passing of legislation which Parliament will not pass this year. Prioritisation of what is most necessary is critical to this. Planning several years in advance may have alleviated the problem. We have also seen that depending who the Speaker of the House is on a given day, the type of rulings they give will differ. More consistency is needed.

Which constituency office have you been assigned to? Can you give examples of constituency work you engaged in? I am the DA constituency leader for Hammanskraal, where I oversee numerous councilors and branches. We boost political activity in the area and remain accountable to voters regarding service delivery. My work also involves attending community meetings and functions like funerals, weddings and places where I am invited to address the audience as an MP. I recently gave a motivational address at a high school. I strive to ensure the smooth running of the constituency, that all our councillors are always accountable and that service delivery issues are taken seriously and dealt with speedily. We also have political events like marches, pickets, petitions, door-to-door and we convene public meetings.

Does Parliament do a good job of holding the Executive to account? If not, what can be done to improve this? I believe that the opposition parties, specifically the DA and EFF, have done a great deal in terms of holding the executive to account. They have done so not only through Parliament but through successful court action. The DA has a “shadow cabinet” of MPs in terms of which we go toe-to-toe with the relevant Ministers and propose real and sustainable solutions. We all know that the ANC has a significant majority and the tenure of Jacob Zuma was characterised by how he was protected by his party. The political party system makes many MPs accountable to the parties only and not necessarily to the voters – as in the Jacob Zuma era and even now with certain serial offenders who are Ministers. MPs need to remain mindful of their oath of office and ultimately serve the Constitution and he people of South Africa.

Are you happy with the proportional representation system or are you in favour of electoral reform? The system has to be reformed so as to make politicians directly accountable to voters. At the very least, the people occupying the top echelons such as mayors, premiers and the president need to be directly elected. As the DA, we advocate for extensive electoral reform to establish a direct line between politicians and the people they claim to serve. There must be far more accountability and direct elections would go a long way towards this.

Is Parliament’s public participation model adequate or robust enough that it affords enough public participation before a law is passed? There needs to be reform in this area. In many cases people are not aware of public participation meetings taking place and often when they are, they doubt that their voice and concerns will be taken seriously. Public participation needs to be less of a rubber-stamping or box-ticking exercise and must provide true democracy – not only when inputs are heard, but also in the way that inputs are ultimately treated.

What are you passionate about? This applies both in a political/professional arena as well as personally? I want to continue to make positive change throughout my life. I am passionate about taking up residents’ issues – especially in Hammanskraal – and driving them at all spheres of government so as to improve people’s quality of life. I am passionate about accountability and about cutting corruption, because corruption steals from people who need service delivery.   I am a sports fan and I avidly follow and support the Stormers and Kaizer Chiefs. I have always pursued the constant increase of knowledge through study and reading. I am also a Distinguished Toastmaster through an organization called Toastmasters International, and am President of the Tshwane chapter of Junior Chamber International (a global organisation of young professionals aged 18-40 of which Kofi Annan and Bill Clinton are alumni).

I am passionate about leadership and public speaking and about mentoring others to be the best that they can be.

What is your message to South Africa? Let’s build an inclusive society where all South Africans, regardless of racial, cultural or socio-economic background, can truly feel South African. There are deep divisions in our society along the lines of race and class. Our society remains vastly unequal and unemployment is destroying the lives of our young people in particular. We have our fair share of problems as a nation and we can only solve these challenges by building one South Africa for all, where we look out for each other, build each other up, foster a sense of togetherness and feel proud to be called South African. It won’t happen overnight and it won’t be easy but it is a dream worth fighting for especially towards making our nation a better place for future generations.

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