Mr Sam Matiase (EFF)

SA citizens are their own liberators, which means they ought to stand up and rediscover that their success is in acting in unison and not as individuals.

Sam Matiase

What is your political background?

My political awareness and activism started around 1988 in Bloemfontein at Botshabelo. I was a student activist in the Botshabelo Students Congress (BOSCO). BOSCO later became an affiliate of the Congress of South African Students (COSAS). In 1989 I joined the Botshabelo Youth Congress (BOYCO) which was an affiliate of the South African Youth Congress (SAYCO). In the late 90's I joined the ANC formally, though I had been a member of the ANC by association as the congresses I belonged to were formed under the umbrella of the United Democratic Front (UDF). I also became a member of the South African Communist Party (SACP) in 1995. In 1996 I became a regional chairperson of the ANCYL having served in different branch position beforehand. In 1999 I was elected into the Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) of the ANCYL in the Free State.

In 2005 I was elected a provincial chairperson of the Young Communist League in the Free State. A few years later I was elected into the SACP Free State chapter but left that structure around 2011 and remained an active branch level member of both the SACP and the ANC until 2013.

In 2013 I was part of the founding members of the EFF, as a provincial convener for the entire Free State until the 2014 National Assembly of the EFF which elected the leadership collective of the EFF in Bloemfontein. Before that assembly I was delegated after the general elections to be part of the Members of Parliament (MPs) that would represent the EFF in parliament to date. I have served on Health, Rural Development and Land Reform, Ethics and Members Interests portfolios and currently serve on the Justice and Correctional Services portfolio. I also attend the chief whips forum and the programming committee of parliament by delegation.

What does your job as an MP entail?

Weekends including Mondays I dedicate to party work at my constituency so that I can attend the Tuesday and Wednesday morning meetings of the Justice and Correctional Services Portfolio. It is quite engaging and busy which sometimes includes Friday mornings as well. The Rural Development and Land Reform Committee is not as busy as Justice apart from public hearings although it meets twice a week sometimes.

What is your impression of the Fifth Parliament?

I have been a public servant for the better part of my life and I came to Parliament with that institutional memory of how government works horizontally and vertically in terms of intergovernmental relations (IGR) and how policy gets developed and its impact on the civil service.

I realise there are many challenges facing Parliament, because the legislative environment is designed such that it enables government to implement policy and be transformative but seldom does government policy find expression at local government level because of administrative bureaucracies. There is a policy on Batho Pele principles but you hardly get a road show on educating not only public servants but communities on those principles. We need to internalise those principles so that we are able to appreciate the magnitude of service delivery backlogs and the miseries of our people on the ground. Parliament has now established a High Panel Review on all legislation from 1994 to date which I find to be outsourcing of the core business of parliamentarians. That to me is admission of failure by Parliament to continuously review its own legislation ensuring that legislation does not end at promulgation but actually gets implemented, and is evaluated continuously to see what socio-economic benefits citizens are accruing.

The EFF has learnt the ropes at an amazing speed since coming into the National Assembly (NA). Our participation had to be straddled between parliamentary work and building the EFF generally in the country and to keep a dynamic link between that work and constituency work as the EFF is a mass based organisation. Others can say we have abandoned our parliamentary work whereas we are balancing parliamentary work with constituency work.

What constituency area have you been assigned to you by your party?

My constituency office is in Queenstown in the Eastern Cape in terms of parliamentary constituency. My secondary constituency then becomes Mangaung in the Free State, where I reside. My party organisational constituency is in Alfred Nzo, in Mount Ayliff.

What has been most interesting about your constituency work so far?

Our party leader always encourages the collective leadership of the EFF to have flagship projects whether it is the construction of a clinic, a school or to adopt a sports team. I have a project in my hometown of Botshabelo at a fledgling stage which I cannot elaborate on too much as it is at its infancy.

What are you most passionate about? This applies both in a political / professional arena as well as personally?

I would have read for a theology qualification or would have loved to be a catholic priest had I not gotten into politics. That was a childhood passion.

What is your message to South Africans??

The country is at a very critical stage of its democratic and developmental agenda as evidenced by the level of anger and violent protests taking place. The reason unrest continues is because of the deeper societal and structural challenges that continue to pervade our society dating from apartheid to the unjustifiable failure of the democratic state to break free from colonialism and apartheid. Breaking free from colonialism and apartheid necessitates dealing with private property ownership at a structural level.

SA citizens are their own liberators, which means they ought to stand up and rediscover that their success is in acting in unison and not as individuals. They ought to take lessons from the #FeesMustFall movement that flourished despite government resolving to draconian apartheid tactics to suppress discontent. Citizens ought to stand together to realise the aspirations contained in the Freedom Charter. The demands are made by our people from a position of weakness and humbling but the ruling elite and liberation movement is failing to meet those minimum demands of South Africans. South Africans must organise, agitate and the EFF will certainly create that enabling environment for that to happen.

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