What is your political background? How did you come to join your political party and become an MP? My parents were born and raised on a farm and I listened to their stories of their upbringing and it ignited the desire for political activism. My activism became entrenched when I was at college such that I was expelled from the former Lennox Sebe which later became Griffiths Mxenge Teachers College, in King Williams Town in 1986. I finished my qualification at Rubusana in Mdantsane East London in 1988.
Before 1994 I was active in civic movements like the Frankfort Youth Organisation as I originate from there. After finishing school I served as a branch secretary of the ANC. Currently I serve on as an additional member in the executive of the Dr WB Rubusana region located in East London. I am also a central member of the SACP.
As a teaching practitioner I also led the King Williams Town SADTU branch and from there I was elected to the provincial structure of SADTU. I was elected Vice-President of the Sports, Arts and Culture portfolio within SADTU’s national structure. It was from this position I was deployed to Parliament.
What does your job as an MP entail? On Mondays I am at my constituency dealing with constituency challenges. On Tuesdays I am in Cape Town attending my study group in preparation for the portfolio committee meeting which sits on Wednesday morning. I am assigned to the Labour Portfolio. On Thursday mornings I attend the ANC caucus and plenary session if there is one in the afternoon. Fridays I go back to my constituency.
What are you finding most challenging about the Fifth Parliament? The amount of time we are given to do the work we are elected to do is small because opposition parties, instead of assisting the ANC to move the country forward, always create challenges for the ANC such that we have to focus on those challenges. As much as I appreciate that the opposition’s role is to hold the ANC accountable, service delivery to the people of South Africa should unite us. I wish would be things that we are not removed from. My wish is that when the opposition seeks to assert itself, it does so in a manner that does not hamper the work of parliament.
Which constituency office have you been assigned to? Can you give examples of constituency work you engaged in? I am assigned to Fort Beaufort in the Eastern Cape. Our programme focuses on going into the community holding public meetings to allow constituents to raise issues. We have already conducted workshops on cooperatives where we had asked the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Small Business Development, Ms Ruth Bhengu to host such an event at Fort Beaufort. We have also held a public meeting where we had invited the Deputy Minister of Economic Development, Mr Madala Masuku to assist communities to equip themselves with knowledge on how else besides jobs, livelihoods could be created and maintained.
I also have 15 youths from my constituency that are being trained in a programme ran by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) over a period of 24 months. They will be provided with stipends whilst training so that at completion of the programme they will also be placed in various DRDLR initiatives. Does Parliament do a good job of holding the Executive to account? If not, what can be done to improve this? I feel that at committee level we definitely do hold the Executive to account, but within committees and the Chamber there is a perception that there is lack of accountability.
Are you happy with the proportional representation system or are you in favour of electoral reform? For now the system works well.
What can be done better regarding Parliaments current public participation model? We have had longer recesses since 2014 and that is deliberately done to allow committees to take public hearings to communities rather than holding them within the precinct. This new approach is improving our public participation model.
What is your biggest passion and what is your message to South Africa? As a teaching practitioner I would say education is my biggest passion as I currently hold a Masters Degree in Education and Labour Law. That is also why in my constituency I ensure that every year there is a career exhibition at my constituency. I do not want any youth bemoaning lack of knowledge about how to equip themselves.
South Africa is governed by law and changing laws is not easy. My wish is for South Africans to remember where the ANC took the country from as many rights enjoyed today are because of the ANC. Indeed there are flaws in the governing party but those should not easily change their belief in the ruling party as the ANC is still a faithful party. Our people live in houses they have not paid for - tapped water, electrification and social grants are things achieved through the ANC. Rome was not built in one day…
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