What is your political background? How did you come to join your political party and become an MP?
My dear late mother and my older sister Marlene were both struggle activists. So I was exposed to solid community activism all the time. What were very evident were the compassion and the passion they had in what they did. They were not interested in occupying public positions. I suppose that is the one disappointment they may have, because my activism eventually led me to take up a seat in Parliament. I do not want their legacy of solidarity with the poor and vulnerable to end. I want to honour that legacy of sincere solidarity. I believe that representing the Economic Freedom Fighters afforded me both.
What does your job as an MP entail?
I attend committee meetings. These usually take place in the morning. It could either be my own committee, which is now Appropriations and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries or I stand in for another comrade when requested to do so. I attend sittings in the afternoons from Tuesday to Friday. I leave for my constituency either Friday afternoon or early Saturday morning. I usually spend two to three days in my constituency.
What are you finding most challenging about the Fifth Parliament?
The ruling party never encountered the level of opposition they experienced with the EFF. We are the first sincere left formation to be elected to Parliament. It is very difficult to navigate the institution with a socialist agenda when everything about it is meant to enforce Western and capitalist values.
What obstacles prevent Parliament from doing its work and how would you fix it?
Parliament purports to represent the people of South Africa yet we often make laws and implement policies without properly consulting the citizens. One way to avoiding operating in isolation is for Parliament to constantly run programmes in communities where we empower them with the knowledge to fully participate in parliamentary decision-making.
Which constituency office have you been assigned to? Can you give examples of constituency work you engaged in?
My constituency office is in De Aar, Northern Cape. My party has a policy of deploying its members outside of the province where they reside. There is wisdom in this. I have been deployed to three different provinces in this session. It has given me the immense honour of engaging communities I would otherwise not have had access to. My constituency work would entail visiting communities and making sure any service delivery issues are channelled to the relevant departments. I give feedback to the communities and I am currently focusing much of my attention on the plight of small-scale fishermen where 600 000 families see this as their livelihood. I do not think that the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries fully comprehends the impact of some of the decisions they have made without properly consulting small-scale fishermen.
Does Parliament do a good job of holding the Executive to account? If not, what can be done to improve this?
I believe we do. I believe the public has become aware of many of government’s failures as a result of our continuous efforts to hold the Executive to account. The real challenge is when the Executive fails to heed the caution of the opposition and we have to pursue the legal route.
Some Members of the Executive are not in touch with the people who depend on them to ensure that their portfolios deliver the necessary services. We need Ministers who have a solid grasp on their portfolios and the needs of people.
Are you happy with the proportional representation system or are you in favour of electoral reform?
I believe reform is necessary but I also believe the citizens should be more active in our political discourse and that we should consult broadly on all issues affecting our people.
Is Parliament’s public participation model adequate/ robust enough that it affords enough public participation before a law is passed?
No it isn’t. We sometimes do public participation just to tick boxes. We need to organise and educate our citizens and make them aware of their role in parliamentary processes.
What are you passionate about? This applies both in a political/professional arena as well as personally?
I am passionate about running programmes that promote social cohesion, utilising and maximizing human agency where people feel empowered to do for themselves and all that is required is an enabling environment.
What is your message to South Africa?
It’s time to build a real participatory democracy. This requires a system that is underpinned by sustainable development through processes that are designed and owned by the people. Let us respect and value each other and acknowledge the limitations of our natural resources. Let’s pool and share resources and move away from the temptation to accumulate and amass wealth.
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