1. How did you come to join your political party and become an MP?
- I was working for a corporate bank in 2013, when I came across The Founding Manifesto of the EFF. That was a turning point in my life as I had become severely despondent with the way the corporate environment treated young black professionals versus the white ones.
- Once I read the manifesto, I felt it spoke to me. It spoke to the many issues I needed addressed for the sake and future of my two sons. I signed my membership form in March 2014, and I have been an activist for the Economic Freedom Fighters ever since. -I became an MP through deployment. Prior to that I had been deployed to be the first of EFF Councillors to participate in Nelson Mandela Bay Metro in 2016. Some time after that I was then elected by the same council to Chair the Municipal Public Accounts Committee, which was a huge honour, and a task I took quiet seriously.
- In 2018, I then was deployed to the 5th parliament, and participated in the Portfolio Committee of Mineral Resources.
2. What is one goal that you would like to achieve during your time as an MP?
- If there is one goal I would like to achieve it is to see my voice make an impact.
- Recently we participated fully in the 3 GBV amendment bills that were passed. It was painstaking work, making sure that we cover all possible angles in order to protect those who find themselves vulnerable. It is one thing to legislate, however, I would like to see that all that work makes a tangible difference in the lives of those we sought to speak on behalf of.
- That would be the achievement, knowing that Parliament has a tangible effect in not only drafting legislation, but making sure that legislation is enforced.
3. What does your job as an MP entail, and what do you find challenging/demanding?
- An MP is essentially a public representative and servant. Therefore, as an MP, you account not only to your constituency, but also the general population of South Africa. As an MP, your responsibility is to fully participate in your allocated portfolio committee, commit to it, and make tangible inputs based on your experience on the ground. This at times requires a lot of travelling, which might be the demanding part, in that one doesn’t truly allow you to spend time with loved ones, which can at times make one feel guilty. However, this is the path chosen. It is not about me now, but about South Africans, and every little that I do counts.
4. Which constituency office have you been assigned to? Can you give examples of constituency work you engage in?
- I am assigned to Xhariep, as well as Mangaung. We do a lot of community work, at times aligned with the portfolio committee that we serve.
- I have had engagements with the Correctional Services in Mangaung, for instance, and have listened to their grievances, which we are currently trying to address.
- Recently a mining damn in Jaggersfontein burst twice. We went as public representatives of the EFF to see for ourselves the damage caused, and to see first hand how we can assist, also how we can challenge the sitting Minister directly on what must happen moving forward.
- In Mangaung EFF, we refurbished an old age home called Boikocho for its 9th year anniversary. It was beautiful knowing that we have made life much easier and more beautiful for the elderly, who spent their last days being cared for.
5. How do you think Parliament can drive more public participation in policy, legislation and voting?
- People do not truly get to participate in Parliament, because it has become elitist in its approach to public participation. True public participation is when Parliament goes directly to the people. I have often observed that South Africans are out of touch with the functions of Parliament because it has ceased to engage them directly, but rather using NGOs and lobby organisations as a mouth piece and calling THAT public participation. As members of Parliament we have often challenged this. It is almost as if Parliament seeks to infantilize the people of this country by not giving them the benefit of the doubt, allowing them to fully participate and choose how they are governed. We are now seeing that in the deep decline in voter participation during local, and national government elections, as well as by-elections.
6. What are you passionate about, both professionally and personally?
- I am passionate about so much. I am passionate about the future of the youth in this country, it could be selfishly because I am raising the youth that will one day be participating adults in this country’s economy. I am passionate about the economy of this country - in particular the ocean economy, which is not talked about enough and has far reaching results if we truly care to invest in it as a country. I am passionate about curbing the deep-seated hate and violence perpetrated against young women, children and the LGBTQ+ community. I am passionate about raising awareness on autism, and all spectrums associated with development, as I feel there are a lot of us parents who have children who are on different spectrums, yet help isn’t easily available to us from our government, unless you have the privilege of money.
7. Which social justice issues are you most concerned with?
- Making sure that pads are easily and freely available in all schools, and clinics, especially in rural South Africa.
8. Does Parliament do a good job of holding the Executive to account? If not, what can be done to improve this?
- Opposition parties do their best, especially the EFF, in holding the Executive to account. However, the majority party does its best to shield its Executive from accounting, which defeats the purpose of oversight. -The Executive of this country is far too relaxed, as there is no sufficient consequence management track record that says if you don’t serve, you ship out.
9. What are your or your party's aspirations/plans for the remainder of the Sixth Parliament?
- My party has been consistent in public participation. Our people need the land to be expropriated without compensation.
- We are fighting for the minerals of this country to be under the custodianship of the state. We are fighting for free quality education.
- The EFF is at the forefront of fighting without fear or favoring corrupt practices done by even the highest office, amongst other things.
10. What obstacles prevent Parliament from doing its work and how would you fix it?
- An obstacle that we find in Parliament is self-serving MPs and Ministers who only seek to do lip service and not service the people they are actually put there to serve.
- We need a realignment of public representatives who will serve. We need a younger Parliament that will see to it that the mission and policies set out by Parliament are executed and that due oversight is conducted with tangible consequence management from those who deviate from serving South Africans.
View Yoliswa Yako's profile here