What is your political background? How did you come to join your political party and become an MP? I started my political life just before 1990. That activism was still underground whilst I was employed as a teacher. In 1992 I was recruited to perform secretarial duties for the South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO) branch at Steenbok in Mpumalanga just prior to the 1994 first democratic general election. I remained in that position until 2014. During that period I occupied the ANC Women’s League treasurer position. In 1995 I became a ward councilor for the Nkomazi East Transitional Rural Council (TRC). When comrade Phumzile Ngwenya-Mabila, then Deputy Mayor, was elected to be a Member of the Provincial Legislature (MPL), I replaced her as the Deputy Mayor of our TRC. In 2001 I was elected a ward councilor in the Ehlanzeni District Municipality, where the ANC also elected me as council caucus chairperson since I had been participating in the Ehlanzeni regional structure of the ANC already. In 2006 I left public politics and returned to teaching full time though I remained active in my branch as secretary until 2014. In 2014 I was deployed to Parliament.
What does your job as an MP entail? On Mondays I can be found at my constituency office. I am deployed to the Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources and as an alternate member to the Environmental Affairs Committee. On Tuesday morning I attend the environmental affairs meetings and there is always a plenary sitting in the afternoon, which is followed by a study group session for the mineral resources committee. On Wednesday mornings I attend the mineral resources meeting and this is followed by a plenary and a study group session for environmental affairs for the following week. Thursday mornings are usually for the caucus with the afternoon and Fridays open for administration and constituency work.
What are you finding most challenging about the Fifth Parliament? The biggest challenge I have experienced when I came in was computer literacy in terms of having to prepare speeches. The support from our researchers sometimes comes at the eleventh hour or the day before a debate. Fortunately Parliament avails facilitators that teach speed typing and use of credible e-journals so that one can do individual research to better prepare for debates.
Which constituency office have you been assigned to? Can you give examples of constituency work you engaged in? My constituency is in Tonga, under the Ehlanzeni District Municipality in the Nkomazi sub-region of the ANC in Mpumalanga. We are currently busy assisting ex mineworkers who still have not claimed their benefits from their former employers. We also assist orphans with school uniforms and stationery every now and again.
Are you happy with the proportional representation system or are you in favour of electoral reform? I feel like reform would work better for the general public because of late, especially in my party; too much money exchanges hands for political positions, even when it is abundantly clear that individuals are not capacitated enough for the positions they get elected to. Even deployment to departments seems to work along those lines. Proportional representatives more often than not do little work compared to ward councilors. Moreover, I feel like they are less effective though they are supposed to do similar work as ward councilors.
What are you passionate about? This applies both in a political/professional arena as well as personally? Church is my biggest passion beyond teaching and politics.
What can be done better regarding parliaments current public participation model? In my village there is a water shortage and when Parliament goes for public hearings on a mineral resources policy, villagers do not attend that hearing. Fairly though; they are within their rights to boycott a public hearing especially if their municipality cannot explain why there is no water. In my experience, when we communicate in advance that we will be doing oversight and hearings on mineral resources simultaneously, citizens attend the hearings to talk about their current service delivery challenges and not the agenda of the hearings, and we do accommodate them.
What is your message to South Africa? Challenges arising in the ANC are not organisational or structural issues but rather individually created challenges. If South Africans can recall where the ANC took us from to where we currently are as a democratic nation, things changed for the better. People need to keep believing in the ANC.
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