Ms Regina Lesoma (ANC)

Feb. 26, 2018 (2 years, 3 months ago)

regina

What is your political background? How did you come to join your political party and become an MP? My activism started in 1982 when I was at school in KZN. At the time I resided in KwaMashu though I attended school in Umlazi. In the townships politics though covert, was quite alive. At the time I was an active member of the Congress of South African Students (COSAS) where we often underwent different types of training. From 1985 we were establishing “committees of 10” across townships of KZN where I became part of the KwaMashu committee of 10 which encompassed Lindelani and Ntuzuma locations. The Committees of 10 were established to mobilise communities around socio-economic challenges. Amongst the issues we mobilised for at the time was black on black violence as perpetrated by the KwaZulu Police Force against township residence; visitation rights being time limited when wives visited husbands at hostels; and the fact that Lindelani did not have a cemetery, but was also barred from using the Ntuzuma cemetery. We were also not allowed to buy gravesites.

In 1990 when the ANC was unbanned we were then tasked with establishing ANC structures in our communities with the assistance of those comrades that had been leading in the United Democratic Front (UDF). That included interim structures and development committees. I was fortunate to be trained to be deployed in government once the ANC became the official government.

After the 1994 general elections I remained active at my branch through my subregion. By 1996 I had become the KwaMashu subregional secretary. Because Durban had been divided into four subregions when we amalgamated them into one; I was fortunate to be elected into the leadership collective of North Durban. When it got integrated into the eThekwini region I also became an additional member in the leadership collective around 1998. I remained in that structure until 2015. In the same period I had arisen to provincial structures of the SACP in KZN.

In the greater metropolitan transitional council of Durban in the mid 1995/96 period I was part of the councillors in the transitional council. In 1998 I became part of the Metro Council and I remained there as part of the executive committee until December 2003. In December I requested the party to allow me to become a municipal official at eThekwini municipality to better understand the administration side of municipal functions. I remained a municipal administrator at Deputy-Director level from 2004 until 2012 when I was deployed to Parliament.

What does your job as an MP entail? Fridays through to Mondays are constituency days and Tuesday mornings until Thursdays afternoons are for parliamentary work which includes committee meetings which currently for me is the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration. This committee oversees the Departments of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME), Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) and the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA). Tuesday afternoons we have study groups in preparation for the following week. Study groups normally sit after the plenary sessions from Tuesday through to Thursday. Thursdays mornings are political party caucus days.

What are you finding most challenging about the Fifth Parliament? Unfortunately there is the public perception that Parliament only exists in the National Assembly (NA) chamber, which is a government weakness to educate the country to understand that the engines of parliament are the portfolio committees.

What obstacles prevent Parliament from doing its work and how would you fix it? The decorum of Parliament has always been respected - not because of being conservative and not wanting to evolve, because I prescribe to moving with the times as well. However, doing so does not have to mean the degradation of the House, its integrity and the seriousness of the work being undertaken. Though you can be correct in what you are bringing across, but because of the way you say it, your message can fail to achieve what you intended it to achieve. Presiding officers also have limitations and deliberately undermining the rules sets a precedent. In a not too distant future you may find yourself having to chair a sitting and find the discomfort of chairing a House sitting where Members deliberately undermine the rules.

Which constituency office have you been assigned to? Can you give examples of constituency work you engaged in? I am assigned to Durban in the ANC’s regional office. Whatever grievances citizens may have, we have provided a space where intergovernmental relations can be addressed as the provincial government officials also can be found therein. Furthermore we have parliamentary constituency office (PCO) management committee structures which include administrators of PCOs to synergize processing of complaints and grievances and to be able to report back to the individuals seeking assistance from our PCO.

As an ongoing strategy to ensure that we are always on the same page, I always introduce myself to the incoming municipal executive and officials after local government elections. That assists me in separating government from party work and having a formal working relationship with a municipality regardless of which party leads that municipality makes mobilisation of sectors through councillors that much easier.

Currently there is home for the destitute, disabled and vulnerable which is a pseudo hospital as there are permanent doctors onsite that service all these vulnerable groups in ward 103 of eThekwini which is close to my heart. I am also engaged with Point Community Policing Forum (CPF) and youth issues through our oversight of the NYDA

Does Parliament do a good job of holding the Executive to account? If not, what can be done to improve this? The back offices which are the committees do their work appropriately and mostly in the timelines set down, but more can be done.

Are you happy with the proportional representation system or are you in favor of electoral? I have a divergent view from the alliance partners regarding review of the electoral system. The ANC’s draft policy documents talk to a better model to assist the alliance with governing the country and beneficiation of citizens.

Is Parliaments public participation model adequate/ robust enough that it affords enough public participation before a law is passed? Ten years ago public participation was on track and the vehicle of communication was conventionally announcing and calling residents to meetings. We have had technological advancement and through information communications technologies (ICTs), communication has to be exploited for better communication with citizens, but we have not exploited these.

What are you passionate about? This applies both in a political/professional arena as well as personally? As the ANC, and parliamentarians in particular we have made education amongst parliamentarians fashionable. Comrades are forever improving their skills and qualifications, which is also a passion of mine.

What is your message to South Africans? I am convinced that after 2019 when the ANC wins the general elections, deployees to government will be people that appreciate and respect administration protocols and the role played by our Chapter 10 and 9 institutions, i.e. when they identify deficiencies, those are corrected immediately.

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