What is your political background? I became involved with the DA from as far back as 2005. In 2006 I was elected a ward councillor in Mangaung, Bloemfontein in the Free State. I first served in the infrastructure portfolio committee in the municipal council and in 2009 I was elected caucus leader of the DA in the Mangaung Municipality. That meant I served in some of the section 79 committees, including rules and the remuneration portfolios of Council. In the 2011 local government elections I was elected as a proportional representative (PR) for the DA.
In 2014 I applied to come to Parliament as a national representative of the DA. The selection process was quite rigorous as there is an application form and other probing processes where you have to declare everything including things that could embarrass the party. Because the process is multifaceted, there are online tests which have to be completed within an allocated time apart from the two sets of interviews which one must undergo. The first is the Electoral College which is a body made up of ordinary card carrying members of the DA who evaluated whether you possibly have the potential to be a public representative in your chosen area. If you succeed the Electoral College you go for a selection panel interview which is more intense. You have to make another semi-unprepared speech on a topic related to the public office you would be possibly elected to in the DA. A ranking of candidates then follows thereafter where the Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) and the Federal Executive Council (FEC) take the final decision.
What does your job as an MP entail? On Mondays I am in my constituency where the political calendar will determine the matters we will be focusing on. Typically I will have one or two appointments with either constituents or meetings with ward and PR councillors on a range of issues from campaigns to community matters depending on whether it is election season or not. I fly down to Cape Town on Monday evenings so that Tuesday and Wednesday mornings I sit in the Justice and Correction Services portfolio committee which is fairly busy because of the reportees we oversee. In the afternoons from Tuesday to Thursday there are plenary sittings and possibly sometimes our committee meets on Friday morning. When that does not happen I travel back to Bloemfontein early Friday.
I also sit on the Magistrates Commission (MC) which meets once a quarter and normal Thursday mornings are caucus periods across parties.
What is your impression of the Fifth Parliament? Since in Mangaung committees did not function very well, I find that parliamentary committees function better because everything is done during council meetings instead of committees at municipal level. I certainly have adapted better than in the committee setting as opposed to someone who is coming into Parliament having never been at municipal council. Therefore portfolio committees can be a very satisfying space to work in as your input even as opposition gets some consideration though its impact can be quite limited if the governing party already has a set position which they are unwilling to be persuaded otherwise on.
The Chamber is a theatre if you look at what happens after you have debated and agreed at committee level to bring particular sections of a bill to the Chamber for consideration. It is one last attempt to persuade colleagues from other parties if we differed in the committee on certain provisions and to propose your parties position whilst defending i. Everybody tries to score political points during Chamber debates, but I have had to adjust to the fact that I am required to be present at debates even if I am not going to be speaking. It seems counterproductive, but there is a method in the madness as it speaks to party discipline on one hand and on the other fulfilling a duty for which you were elected for.
What constituency area have you been assigned to you by your party? Fortunately it is still where I stay in Mangaung which comprises Bloemfontein, Botshabelo, Thaba Nchu and the small holding areas around there. From the 2011 local government elections, the former Naledi Local Municipality, made up of De Wets Dorp, Wepener and Van Stadensrus were incorporated into Mangaung.
What has been most interesting about your constituency work so far? Building of party structures has been my most successful endeavour in that the DA has a footprint in every community and ward in the Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality compared to how the spread was in 2005. When I was still a ward councillor most frustrating was being party of service delivery failures though there were some rewards in that we were able to force the issue of accurate billing onto the municipality's agenda and addressing the matter of water shortages long before the draught because of a lack of reservoir management and management of water infrastructure in the metro. As a constituency head I am amazed by the innovation that councillors have in helping their communities as we are involved in projects providing green renewable energy and housing from waste products.
What are you most passionate about? This applies both in a political/professional arena as well as personally? My main focus is our party’s fight against corruption and definitely my family. In future I would like to write a fictional novel.
What is your message to South Africans? The outcome of the 2016 local government elections has to be a source of hope for South Africans because democracy functions well when you a peaceful handover of political power after an election. Another sense of hope can be derived from the fact that South Africans are no longer satisfied with what they have been receiving in terms of unkept promises and are yearning for change as could be seen from the three metropolitan municipalities we have been entrusted with. Depending on what the governing party does from 2017 to 2019, hopefully by 2019 the DA will have grown to be in national government but that will happen by us ensuring efficiencies return in the three metros we have been entrusted with.
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