What is your political background? How did you come to join your political party and become an MP? I was influenced at home since during apartheid our family home was regularly visited and raided by the security branch at Meadowlands in Soweto - due mainly to my grandmother and uncle’s political activities. My uncle went into exile and from 1982 when I was already working; I would visit him trying to get him to be aligned to the struggle of the ANC more than that of the PAC as the Pan Africanists were more radical in how they wanted to achieve freedom. Having gone to Albert Moroka High School in Thaba Nchu, in the Free State, most of the teaching staff at the school that time was Afrikaans and we were vigilantly watched for any dissenting political voices as students. My father was a fierce opponent of the homeland system and that also piqued my interest in politics in general. All those influences, including the matter of black consciousness which Steve Biko was a great proponent of, made me quite fierce as a student specifically curtailing of our rights by the apartheid regime.
As a registered school I went to work at Johannesburg Hospital post nursing school where I joined the National Education Health and Allied Workers' Union (NEHAWU) right after it was established in the late 80s. At the time public transport was still segregated, including hospital staff. I was the first to forcefully stage a sit in protesting the hospital’s whites only transport. We also managed to get black staff accommodated within the hospital precinct.
After unbanning I joined the Diepkloof ANC branch as a Branch Executive Committee (BEC) member. At my branch I remained active working with youth forums and encouraging political participation by the youth in the countries politics. When the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) was formed I joined them as they were pushing for professional recognition of nursing as a job. In 2002 I was appointed DENOSA Gauteng regional secretary until 2011; as well as to the provincial Executive Committee (PEC) in COSATU. In 2009 I was elected into the Gauteng PEC of the ANC until 2018.
In 2011 I became the Chief of Staff of Deputy Minister of Health, Dr Gwen Ramokgopa until 2014 when I was deployed to Parliament. I was deployed to the Home Affairs and International Relations Portfolio Committees of which I am a still a member.
What does your job as an MP entail? I am at constituency which is mostly informal settlements on Mondays. Tuesday mornings I attend Home Affairs so that Wednesdays I attend the International Relations committee. On Thursday morning is the ANC caucus so that from Tuesday to Thursday afternoon we are at plenary. Alternatively, on some of these days I attend the Women’s Multiparty Caucus as well as study groups after plenary sessions.
What obstacles prevent Parliament from doing its work and how would you fix it? I am quite acclimatized to Parliament as I already had been attending Fourth Parliament with Dr Ramokgopa as Chief of Staff of her office. The only difference between 4th and 5th Parliament is that the Chamber when I came in was quite rowdy and disorderly although sense has prevailed lately.
Which constituency office have you been assigned to? Can you give examples of constituency work you engaged in? My constituency is at Tshwane including Centurion which includes Olievenhoutbosch, Mooiplaas and Itireleng. We mostly are engaged with unemployment challenges, human settlements and skilling of young people that is routing them towards learnerships and apprenticeships.
Does Parliament do a good job of holding the Executive to account? If not, what can be done to improve this? I am satisfied with how we do our work as committees although sometimes it comes across that chairpersons of committees do work as individuals when accounting for our collective products in terms of the bills we produce and public statements on issues. There has to be fair delegation of powers within committees amongst the members of individual committees. I would prefer more television coverage of the committee work which culminates in debates on bills at the Chamber.
Are you happy with the proportional representation system or are you in favour of electoral reform? The system in its entirety can be quite unfair if you take the matter of the coalition local governments led by the DA as the party has won no outright majority. Proportional representation formula has to be revisited.
Is Parliament’s public participation model adequate/ robust enough that it affords enough public participation before a law is passed? The model is quite lacking because the airtime the Chamber gets should rather be reprioritised for actual imbizos and public comments that are derived from communities for mandates to be derived from said communities directly.
What are you passionate about? This applies both in a political/professional arena as well as personally? I would have been a youth motivator, activist, advocate and getting youth involved in the political economy of the country.
What is your message to South Africa? South Africans and youth in particular need to register and vote for the ANC so that it can continue building a better future going forward.
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