What is your political background? How did you come to join your political party and become an MP? My politics began in 1980 at Kgarahara High School in Ga Polatla, Botlokwa, Ga-Machaka, Limpopo when we received a visit from someone who spoke about the idea of establishing a branch of the Congress of South African Students (COSAS) - I was elected a treasurer of that branch. Although COSAS centred on students issues when we converged at the then University of the North, because Limpopo was still Lebowakgomo Homeland, the plight of the black population was raised quite sharply.
In 1981 was expelled from Kgarahara for being too vocal on student issues. I went onto study at Makgoka High School in Boyne and later at university I joined the Azanian Student Convention (Azasco) as an ordinary member of that structure and had joined and became part of the leadership core in Moletji area of the South Africa Youth Congress (SAYCO).
As a practicing teacher from 1988 I had then joined the Northern Transvaal Teachers Organisation (NOTTO) which later became part of SADTU. When the ANC was unbanned the congress found a ready core-group of political inclined individuals that had been involved in civic organisations, development forums. We established the first branch of the ANC in Moletji before the ANC constitution said branches had to be village based. When we then established branches I was then elected branch chairperson of the Kanana branch leadership at Moletji at the time. I remained in the branch chairperson position until 2000 when Kanana amalgamated with four other villages to form the Solomon Mahlangu branch. In 2002/3-2006 I was elected sub-regional secretary of Aganang sub-region. During this time I had been elected to be a member of the district executive committee of the SACP in the Castro Pilusa District until 2010/11. At the South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO) I had been elected a branch secretary for Kanana.
In 2005 I was moved to the Premier’s office as a coordinator of district community development workers when Mr Sello Moloto was Premier of Limpopo. In 2008 whilst serving in the Premier’s office I was elected into the Peter Mokaba Regional Executive Committee (REC) until 2018.
I came to Parliament in 2014 where I was deployed to the Portfolio Committees on Justice, International Relations as well as the Ad Hoc Committee on Constitutional Review.
What does your job as an MP entail? On Mondays I can be found at my constituency office. On Tuesday mornings I attend the justice committee, but on Wednesday mornings I have to prioritise according to the agenda how I split my time between the two committees. On Thursday mornings I attend the ANC caucus. Tuesdays afternoons are for plenary and the study group of international relations for the ANC. The justice study group is on Wednesday afternoons. If the constitutional review committee does not sit on Fridays I return to my constituency.
What obstacles prevent Parliament from doing its work and how would you fix it? The system currently is quite accommodating and you adjust and learn as you go along. The only snag I have identified is the oversight model of the PC on International Relations as the Department has a footprint all over the world with the current oversight model not accommodating for physical oversight and regularly rather making us to rely on media publications instead, which is very problematic.
Which constituency office have you been assigned to? Can you give examples of constituency work you engaged in? My constituency is Blouberg Municipality in the Capricorn region of Limpopo. As the community is mostly rural, general issue I deal with relate to water supply and home affairs related matters.
Does Parliament do a good job of holding the Executive to account? If not, what can be done to improve this? I am mostly satisfied about the Executive’s response to our invitations and they do account but of course sometimes one gets Ministers that submit apologies consistently which doesn’t always make us happy because we don’t get a chance to engage said Ministers directly.
Are you happy with the proportional representation system or are you in favour of electoral reform? I have an issue with the formula which is used at that level to apportion the vote between a ward councillor and a proportional representative (PR) councillor. The winner takes all principle does not seem to apply consistently when accounting for the overall political party representation in that there are people and parties that get what they do not deserve especially when you count ballots.
Is Parliament’s public participation model adequate/ robust enough that it affords enough public participation before a law is passed? During the constitutional review exercise, when we sought input from communities on amending section 25, I felt we had gone an extra mile as Parliament. I have realised that communities are triggered by issues and how we make laws, because when you call for public comment on a technical bill not the same enthusiasm will be shown by our people and therefore I feel the public participation model to date is adequate.
What are you passionate about? This applies both in a political/professional arena as well as personally? Self development and empowerment has always been a passion, such that had I been given the opportunity I would ensure that co-operatives and other social enterprises would thrive. Moreover I would want grant beneficiaries to be assisted to create their own sustainable income generation such that SASSA could have lesser beneficiaries. I know that would probably mean investing more on skills teaching, upgrading and incentivising people to self-sustain but I would certainly prefer that.
What is your message to South Africa? South Africans have to be cognisant of the power of their vote and I therefore urge them to register and cast their votes. Political freedom was not achieved without toil and bloodshed; we currently house a sizeable number of fellow Africans who have left their home countries because of political instability and strife and we certainly do not want South Africa to ever reach such stages of lawlessness and anarchy. Casting a ballot ensures that our democracy thrives as our power lies in electoral franchise.
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