Political background: I became involved in politics, and the ANC, by being involved in student politics. I became an MP through my leadership position in the ANC as a Deputy Chairperson of the ANC Johannesburg region.
What does your job as an MP entail? My job as an MP really has to be, one, being the conduit between the constituency and government generally, and two, being the resident expert in terms of government services in the community. This plays a role in advising people on how to access government services, whether local, provincial or national, and what to do if they have a problem. The other major role of an MP is to make sure that legislation that is passed is legislation that would improve the quality of lives of South Africans – this was the primary role of law-making. The quality of the laws passed should be such that it improves the lives of the people.
What are your thoughts on the Fifth Parliament so far? My impressions are that, whilst the intentions of strengthening it are noble, the strategies used are deplorable. I really don’t have a problem with anybody saying Parliament needs sufficient teeth, if they thought it did not have teeth, but there are better ways of going about this or achieving this noble goal. Part of the problem was also the high turnover of Members, which in itself is loss of institutional memory.
What constituency area have you been assigned to by your party? What aspects of constituency work interests you? All the so-called, and I hate this word, “coloured” communities in Gauteng, so it’s Eersterus, Eldorado Park, Randfontein, Annandale etc. Whereas other people would have a small corner or areas for a constituency, mine is at least nine previously coloured areas right across Gauteng, but my Parliamentary Constituency Office is located in Lenasia.
Of late, I have been interested in people becoming politically active probably over the past two years to date. There has been a drastic rise in political consciousness or people’s rights so people now know what they can demand. Previous to that, in these communities, they just didn’t care but people are now becoming active in politics and making their voices heard or wanting to have their voices heard. Another interesting thing for me is educating the communities about how government really works.
What are you passionate about? My biggest passion is to break the divide – many people now still deny there are these racial divides but the point is to break these divides so that there are no marginalised communities. If things are bad we should all suffer. It is really about total equality where everyone is equal before the law and otherwise regardless of race, colour or creed.
My message to South Africa: Freedom is not easy and the more you sacrifice the faster we will reach our destination of total freedom – what you put in will determine whatever your goal is as everything came with effort. 1994 was the beginning, not the end of the journey – one that will take a long time and a lot of effort but it needs all of us to work on it.
For more information on Mr Smith, please visit his profile page.
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