Ms Tandeka Gqada (DA)

Feb. 16, 2017 (6 months ago)

Tandenka Gqada

What is your political background? My political interest started in 2010 when I watched the debates in Parliament and I was still in the private sector at the time. I then came across Mr Masizole Mnqasela, a Member of the Western Cape Provincial Legislature at an opening of a Nedbank branch where he was a speaker and he spoke very impressively. I approached him after his speech where he elaborated about the DA as an organisation for everyone and I asked him about membership. He then started sending me all relevant documentation which then grew my interest further in the DA as a political party. He also advised that I attend constituency meetings in Khayelitsha on Mondays where the people where quite welcoming. Because the DA has an open opportunity ethos, positions for proportional representative (PR) councillors were advertised.

In 2011 I applied through the processes of the Electoral College where one gets interviewed by at least 50 people who have to rate you on your performance in the interview. If you succeed at that stage you go to the selection panel which also interviews you and you also get assessed. After that rankings are made according to seat targets on the list of potential councillors and I had been drawn at position 21 in the 2011 local government elections. We worked very hard on the campaign trail in Khayelitsha and I quit my job when I became a DA PR councillor. When we came to the City of Cape Town Metro during the induction of councillors, I was interviewed again by the Executive Mayor, Patricia De Lille and three others on her panel for her Mayoral Committee (MAYCO). I then succeeded and was a MAYCO member from 2011 until 2014 when I was deployed to Parliament.

What does your job as an MP entail? Mondays are constituency days and on Tuesdays I am at the Human Settlements Portfolio Committee. On Wednesdays I do parliamentary administration and sometimes I attend study groups with the city, the province and national representatives of the sector within the DA. On Thursday mornings we have caucus until lunch time and on Fridays I return to my constituency.

What is your impression of the Fifth Parliament? So far in terms of the portfolio committee environment I am managing well. Furthermore, the added value is that you get to understand what is happening nationally in the settlements sector and you are able to compare and scrutinise all the human settlements entities as well.

The motions and statements in the chamber allow one to engage the Executive and debate with fewer limitations compared to the committee in terms of pushing your party position.

What constituency area have you been assigned to you by your party? What has been most interesting about your constituency work so far? I have been assigned to Khayelitsha. Addressing constituents’ issues is quite positive as that enables interaction between you and them. You either resolve the matters individually or you ask for assistance from City of Cape Town officials by referring constituents to the relevant departments or the relevant councillors as they are quite active.

As part of Mayco there were many projects which were undertaken in my constituency. I recently asked at our DA regional meeting for a list of all such projects so that councillors in the wards of my constituency could take the lead. The dearest projects which I currently am involved with is the People Housing Project (PHP) run by the Western Cape Government.

What are you most passionate about? This applies both in a political/professional arena as well as personally? A big passion for me is being in an results driven organisation and I felt quite at home in the City of Cape Town Metropolitan Municipality as the DA adopts the same ethos in its workings. That has also made my life as a public representative quite easy, which is a calling for me.

What is your message to South Africans? South Africans should not vote with their hearts only but also with their heads. In the myriad of political parties I always tell my constituents when we engage that I would rather be the enemy that is truthful about a situation than be the friend who promises the impossible. I have realised that people want to know that "if the City has not prioritised my informal settlement in a particular financial year when will it be prioritised for upgrades"? Though people still perceive the DA to be a white party, I always ask how it is that it is not transformative when people of colour are in strategic positions.

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