What is your political background? How did you become involved in politics and become an MP for your party? I became a bit politically aware round about ’82 when I went to high school. We were told that for us as students, we needed to have SRCs so we started fighting for that. That also resulted from the Soweto Uprising of 1976 when many students were taken out of schools in Soweto by their parents and sent to schools in the Bantustans because there it was still calm and the kids could finish their schooling. There was also the formation of the Congress of South African Students (COSAS) and the United Democratic Fund (UDF) around that time. We fought against the prefect system and some reactionary principals who seemed to be against progress or allowing SRCs to be there fighting for the wellbeing of students. Generally, this caused one to start participating and then get exposed to the politics of the UDF which engulfed the whole country. There was no need for legal membership at that time because a lot of the work was done underground. We would often use graffiti, pamphlets and leaflets to get messages across to students such as when classes would be boycotted.
Around that time in the country, the dominant ideologies were those who said they were "charterists" i.e. people who followed the Freedom Charter and those calling themselves Azanian from Pan Africanism. I was exposed to the charterists when I became part of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM). I also became involved with the South African Youth Congress (SAYCO) and I also joined the Burgersdorp Youth Congress where I served in the executive committee. With the unbanning of political organisations in 1991, I immediately joined the ANC even before formal membership cards were there. Almost at the same time, there was the re-launch of the ANC Youth League (ANCYL)where we did away with the SAYCO structures. I was involved in setting up the regional provisional structures of the ANCYL for its re-launch. I was elected to the executive committee of the ANCYL in the province where I ended up becoming full time provincial secretary of the ANCYL where I served about two terms i.e. about four years. Then I was elected in the national executive committee of the ANCYL where I served until around 2003. Almost at the same time I was elected to serve the ANC at the regional executive committee in Mopane and Lowveld. I also served in the ANC Limpopo executive committee. I became a MP in 2009.
What does your job as an MP entail? In the main it entails serving your constituency as well as passing laws in the House, including budgets (Money Bills). It involves facilitating public participation with some of the laws and formulation of policy. It also entails the overseeing of departments and their entities. In my case, the Department of Environmental Affairs as well as the South African Weather Service, SANParks, the South African National Biodiversity Institute and iSimangaliso. One has to go through all the documentation of the Department and agencies to understand what they are doing and to hold them accountable on whether they are serving the budget as allocated to them and serving their mandate. Being an MP also involves conducting cross-country oversight on issues of environment, in my case. I also attend meetings of the ANC study group, general sittings of the House, participating in various debates and portfolio committee meetings. I am also the ANC Whip on the Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs. In the Fourth Parliament I served on the Committees on Basic Education as well as Higher Education and Training.
What are your thoughts on the Fifth Parliament? I do feel that it took off in an anarchic way which was unfortunate. I think now that the Rules of Parliament are being strengthened and all gaps and loopholes have been closed, Members should start to behave accordingly so that we bring back the dignity of Parliament. Many of our people are worried that the House has degenerated so much and they feel like Members are letting them down or disappointing them. Of course some of these occurrences do happen globally but in the previous terms of the South African Parliament, no such things happened. I hope that the current happenings will be a thing of the past to focus solely on what Parliament should do within the Rules and constitutional provisions.
Wat constituency have you been assigned to by your party? What aspects about constituency works interests you the most? Currently I am serving a constituency in Seshego. There is a need and expectation that the standard of living of constituents are uplifted whether in terms of water, electricity, homes, issues of environment, etc. It may not be material gains but making sure that people were aware of what was happening around them. It may be delivering specific needs to communities such as ensuring the schools are in good standards. In urban areas many issues may have been achieved but there would always be some need to deliver on. It was a bit frustrating that sometimes one may not be able to assist the constituents as quickly as one would want because some things are beyond one’s power or there may not be the requisite resources to deliver on the needs. There would then always be challenges.
I assisted a community where I come from by delivering about 100 bicycles to two high schools through the help of Deputy Minister of Communication and the donation was done by MTN. The donation was made to those learners who came from struggling families. They were so happy because the donation was helpful. Where possible, one does try to plough back to the communities to ensure there was a contribution to the betterment of the life of our own people.
What are you most passionate about? This applies both in a political/professional arena. I want to be of service to people in an honest, loyal and trustworthy fashion. I want to be respectful of the people who got us where we are either by way of nomination or election – it is a privilege to serve people, not a right. Iin leadership, character is much more important than strategy – a leader should be someone to look up to. A leader should not be involved in underhand activities looking down upon the very people who elected you into power – being involved in corrupt activities is a no-no.
I am very passionate about serving the people of my community, constituency and the country as a whole in a manner that is befitting, in a manner that they could feel proud and in a manner that fills the mandate of the ANC. My view is that in as much as we belong to various political parties, we should be able to put our people first and do that which would change their lives for the better.
What is your message to South Africans? Public representatives generally need to be given a lot of support from the public to make sure that they are able to do their jobs. The public should be able to participate in the activities planned by Parliament and government as a whole because everything being done was for the people. If people are not there, public representatives are denied the opportunity to know what the public needs. It is important that the needs of communities are communicated to Members of Parliament through participation in meetings. This participation would enrich debates and enrich discussions.
The country will only be great when we take into consideration all views and efforts to make South Africa a better country. It is not about “them and us” because we should be one. The public should not lose hope and it is important that we are tolerant of the views of others. We must interact in a manner that we are open to other views to allow for honest discussions and interactions so that the best view will emerge. Even Members should not approach committee meetings as if their views are superior. All platforms should be taken seriously to give deep thought to what was being said to see the implications and possibilities.
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