Ms Phumzile van Damme - DA

P Van Damme

Political background: Growing up, I was involved in politics in one form or another. My earliest memory of political activity was leading a strike in Grade 5 because our teacher would not allow us to go out for break.

At university I majored in Political Science and Law, and the politics side appealed to me more because it was less rigid, I suppose.

I joined the DA as a political staffer a few months after the 2009 election. I joined the DA as a disgruntled ANC supporter and because the DA’s liberal policies appealed to me personally. My personal politics are very liberal. I believe in the liberty of the individual, equality, freedom and democracy.

I worked as a DA staffer both for the party and DA-run governments for five years largely in research and media. I applied to be an MP in 2013, succeeded and was elected to Parliament in 2014.

What does your job as an MP entail? My job has three aspects – plenaries, portfolio committees and constituency work.

  • I participate in plenaries through member statements, speeches, motions etc read out in the National Assembly

  • I serve on the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises where we hold State Owned Enterprises such as South African Airways, Eskom and others accountable to the public.

  • I am the constituency head of Mitchell’s Plein

What has made an impression on you so far in Parliament? The 2014 term of Parliament was very interesting to say the least - with the EFF and its continuous disruptions, a President who refused to come to Parliament to answer questions, and the riot police illegally entering the chamber to remove members of the opposition etc.

At first I was disappointed that all these issues meant that we could not do the work we were voted in to do as parliamentarians, representing South Africa and holding government accountable. Despite all the hurdles, I think we as the DA have done a sterling job representing South Africa well and holding government accountable.

What constituency work are you engaged in? I have been allocated Mitchell’s Plain – an area with high levels of crime, gangsterism and drug abuse. I have set myself the challenge of helping reduce this in collaboration with community members, government, NGOs, churches and other organisations.

I am passionate about young people. Making sure that young people have all the tools they need to make sure that they succeed in life. Making sure that our young people have bright futures is what gets me out of bed every morning.

My message to South Africans: I have come across some people who are intimidated by parliamentarians. Don't be. We are here to serve you, not the other way around. Hold us accountable at all times!

For more information on this MP, please visit her profile.

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