Thamsanqa Bhekokwakhe Mabhena

7 Jul 2020 (11 months, 1 week ago)

Mabhena

What is your political background? How did you come to join your political party and become an MP?

Yeses! So back in high school I spotted an opportunity to put up a fuel station in Vezubuhle. I then proceeded to do much research, enlisted some sponsors and business people to assist. We established contact with SASOL and the now defunct Umsobomvu Youth Fund, invested a lot of money from sponsors into the conceptualization of the idea. However, having done all that, I was frustrated by the Mpumalanga Department of Public Works.

I was so disappointed and disheartened that I decided we needed change. How do you bring change in government? Join the opposition. I just knew we needed a new government that would take seriously the resolve of young entrepreneurs. I went and took out membership with the DA in a neighbouring village. I was one of the founding branch members of the DA in my village in 2008. I was a founding branch Youth representative for the DA in my area. When we launched the first ever DA branch in my community and in our ward, we subsequently named it Dudulazonke DA Branch in Ward 6, Dr. JS Moroka municipality. Today, a decade later there is a mall at the exact spot where I wanted to put up the filling station, and inside that mall, guess what? There is a filling station!

I have been fortunate to have served in the DA in two provinces (Mpumalanga and Gauteng) I have served in various roles in the DA in the two provinces as follows:

Mpumalanga:

  • Transport coordinator: Dr JS Moroka Constituency 2009 general elections
  • Constituency Secretary: DJ Moroka Constituency - 2010
  • Deputy Constituency Chairperson DA Youth: Dr JS Moroka Constituency – 2012
  • Member of the DA Youth Provincial Council: 2009 – 2013

Gauteng:

  • DA Youth Constituency Youth Rep: Hlanganani Constituency – 2014
  • Constituency Officer: JHB Central Constituency – 2015 (Professional staffer)
  • Johannesburg Regional Coordinator: Telecanvassing – 2015 (Professional Staffer)
  • Events coordinator: Logistics Mashaba Mayoral campaign – 2015 & 2016 (Professional staffer).
  • PR Councillor City Of Johannesburg Metro municipality – 2016
  • Constituency Chairperson: Hlanganani constituency – 2017
  • Member of Parliament – 2019

What does your job as an MP entail? What do you enjoy about being an MP?

In simple terms, in my role as an MP, I am in a privileged position to propose any legislation that will help tackle the unique challenges faced by South Africans. In the same breath, my role also extends to the promotion of any legislation that will expedite the solving of the said challenges faced by South Africans regardless whether it is initiated from the opposition benches in Parliament, and also oppose, fight and push very hard against any destructive legislation that would contribute to the regression of South Africa, such as the National Health Insurance, the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Bill and the Prescription of Assets Bill in the National Assembly. Lastly, my role is to hold the Executive to account on the implementation of the said policies and government programmes designed to make South Africa thrive economically, socially, politically etc.

I enjoy Portfolio Committee work more than plenary sessions because in Committee, you get to deal with the nuts and bolts of the Departments and their entities and you are able to push your constituency issues and issues faced by South Africans directly to the Minister, Deputy Minister and the Director-General and seek answers and not let loose until all the issues are resolved.

What are your or your party's aspirations/plans for the Sixth Parliament?

We are faced with a sluggish economy at the moment. There is really an unprecedented pressure on South African households, wherein most are struggling to make ends meet. Unemployment, particularly youth unemployment, is contributing towards a severely depressed nation. The dignity of many South Africans is taken away as a result of unemployment.

We have, and will continue to introduce and put forward a series of reforms that are aimed at jump-starting the economy and ensuring that we pull ourselves in this pit economic ruin that we find ourselves in. The ruling party must swallow their pride and work with us and give our proposed reforms a chance, the time for petty politics is long gone- it is time we become patriotic.

What obstacles prevent Parliament from doing its work and how would you fix it?

The Executive does as it pleases through various ministries. Some Ministers have created little personal fiefdoms within these Departments, there are loopholes in Parliament in holding the Executive accountable. We certainly need to strengthen and augment the procedures with which we hold Departments accountable.

At portfolio committee level, why don’t we have sight of the performance agreement of the Minister and the President and why is the review done only by the President in relation to the performance of the Executive Authority of the Department whereas the Department reports to the Committee and needs the Committees support to approve their Annual Performance Plan and Reviews? Consequence management of Departments must be vested at Portfolio Committee level. Portfolio Committees now can only moan and no action is taken.

Which Constituency Office have you been assigned to? Can you give examples of Constituency work you engaged in?

I have been assigned to the Hlanganani Constituency which covers Pimville, Eldorado Park, Kliptown, Klipspruit, Chiawelo and Dlamini located in Soweto, Gauteng.

We are currently wrestling with the national Department of Human Settlements and their provincial counterparts in the Gauteng province for their failure to keep the promises they made to residents of Kliptown with regards to their land claims which to-date have not been paid whereas there was a huge convention in Eldorado Park where the then Minister of Human Settlemets, Ms Lindiwe Sisulu, made this undertaking. They’re now dilly dallying around the issue. It is an insult of the highest order to almost suggest that the people of Kliptown are not worthy of those payments.

Also, the Sector Development that has stalled in Kliptown is cause for concern. There were promises that the Southern Farms will yield 28500 serviced stands and that has yet to happen.

We are also chasing the Department of Transport with regards to the rejected and failed E-tolls scheme in Gauteng. Also, for their failure to implement the Moloto railway Corridor 10 years later after the sod turning pompous ceremony was done. They keep shifting the goal posts. They have now revised the delivery schedule to another 8 years.

Does Parliament do a good job of holding the Executive to account? If not, what can be done to improve this?

There can certainly be more improvement, for instance during the Question and Answer sessions in Parliament, a Minister can respond on behalf of another Minister who is absent without having an idea or full comprehension of the issue, but he/she will just respond on the basis of general knowledge or based on what they once heard in passing.

The Executive can respond in a non-satisfactory manner or completely evade the question and there is no mechanism in place to insist on a comprehensive or satisfactory reply in the Assembly especially for Oral and or even written replies for that matter.

Besides the discretion of the Speaker, there should be a way in which the recipients of the replies can lodge formal objections to the replies by the Executive and there should be a turnaround time for a satisfactory reply and there should be punitive measures in place to deal with culprits. We also need impartial Presiding Officers who are non-partisan.

Are you happy with the proportional representation system or are you in favour of electoral reform?

The drafters of our Constitution drafted it in such a way that Parliament can be a Parliament of the people, which enables a diversity of views and constituents to be heard and represented through the multiparty Proportional Representative system. In itself it has the hallmarks and is a true embodiment of the nation that we are. However, the system is also not fool proof to deter unscrupulous characters whose primary objective is to line their own pockets rather than serve the citizens from entering the walls of the NA.

Given the above, I would say perhaps we need a hybrid mix of both the Proportional Representative and constituency-based system so that we can be held directly accountable by those that vote us into public office.

What can be done to get citizens more interested/ involved in Parliament? Is this an area where Parliament can improve and if so, what recommendations do you have?

The current system is setup in a way that allows MP’s to go and report back to their constituents on any developments in Parliament regarding upcoming Bills which will be introduced or one that are being amended or repealed. We have constituency days on Mondays, and we also have constituency periods every term.

I think there is need for improvements to facilitate public participation of citizens in Parliament. I am of the opinion that Parliament doesn’t engage the public enough. The institution must also embrace technology and new ways of communication, even though perhaps access is still an issue for now, but they should be nonetheless building capacity for when that eventuality happens.

Active citizenry is quite important as well on the part of the citizens, people can’t just elect public representatives and then that’s it. People must always take active interests on how they are governed. I am of the opinion that Active Citizenry must be a learning area that is integrated into the curriculum and is taught from Grade 1 all the way to matric, and must be compulsory. In that way you will have a society that has say on everything and anything that happens about them.

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

I am passionate about the mobility of citizens and on how Transport is a key economic driver for all well-performing economies. The ability of any nation to invest in efficient and reliable public transport infrastructure for both citizens and goods has been proven time and again that they succeed. Investment in infrastructure development which is efficient and affordable can help unlock the economy and will by-and-large extend and ensure that we are able to connect people to opportunities. This extends to cargo for businesses which drive the economy, as well as tourism and will direct foreign currency to our shores. Efficient public transport has a direct effect on a lot of factors such as the reduction of carnage on our roads.

I am a devoted Kaizer Chiefs supporter.

What is your message to South Africa?

There is hope, the DA remains the only viable alternative to what is currently on offer. However as the saying goes, you get a government that you vote for and not a government that you wish for.



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