"If we achieve true redress and reconciliation, there is nothing that can stop us as a resilient nation."
Question 1: What is your political background? How did you come to join your political party and become an MP?
I started volunteering in the Democratic Party (DP) Youth, then went on to become a regional youth leader. In 2000, I was elected as a Councillor and worked as both a PR and ward councillor up until going to Parliament in 2014. I chose the DP because it was the party that spoke best to my values and principles but ironically it was the late President Nelson Mandela that sparked the journey.
Question 2: What does your job as an MP entail? What do you enjoy about being an MP?
I am the shadow Minister of International Relations and Co-operation for the Democratic Alliance (DA). This requires me to be up to date with global affairs, have an understanding of the rules and laws pertaining to this committee and to work within our terms of reference. It is with this foundation that I promote what a DA government would do when in charge of International Relations and Co-operation. I also am assigned a constituency and I need to ensure that the councillors and I have a good visible presence to assist residents and take issues to Parliament on their behalf. I think politics is a calling and that you get called upon to represent the concerns or proposals of your constituents and that you build hope and unity where vacuums exist.
Question 3: What are your or your party's aspirations/plans for the Sixth Parliament?
During the Sixth Parliament I hope to encourage the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) to be more consistent in their foreign policy and ensure that we focus on speaking out against all human rights violations; that we vote responsibly on bodies such as the United Nations (UN), United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the African Union (AU), the Southern African Development Community (SADC) etc. We should also turn our foreign policy from historic to future focus.
Question 4: What obstacles prevent Parliament from doing its work and how would you fix it?
Parliament at this stage is not as close to the grassroots as it should be. We came out of an embarrassing and destructive Fifth term and all focus should be on improving our reputation and productivity in the house and building from our mistakes and not repeating them.
Question 5: Which Constituency Office have you been assigned to? Can you give examples of Constituency work you engaged in?
I have been assigned to Alberton constituency in Ekurhuleni. I have had to hit the ground running and have already submitted a petition on behalf of a suburb and have been part of a public meeting on power outages. I think the ideal constituency head is someone that reports to the community on what is taking place at a national level and represents that community in Parliament through the tools of motions, Member statements, petitions and questions to highlight areas of concern and bring about meaningful change.
Question 6: Does Parliament do a good job of holding the Executive to account? If not, what can be done to improve this?
Currently, Parliament does not do a good job in holding the executive to account because the executive seem to hold themselves to a different set of rules than that of the House. Ministers historically have been known to not be at their Question Time sessions or be available to respond to members’ statements. When they do answer questions they get away with answering the questions they want to answer and not having to answer the actual questions. If it was up to me, Ministers would be compelled to attend plenary sessions; be at their Question Time sessions and provide the answers to the actual questions being asked. Ministers should have an open door policy to Members of their committee on matters of State.
Question 7: Are you happy with the proportional representation system or are you in favor of electoral reform?
The current electoral system has widened the gap between public representatives and constituents. I believe, at the least, there should be a hybrid system whereby constituencies elect their own MPs and the other half are elected via proportional representation as in local government elections. Residents should know who their MPs are and how to get hold of them and hold them to account.
Question 8: 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? What are you passionate about? This applies both in political/ professional arena as well as personally?
Interest in Parliament has grown but probably for the wrong reasons. A lot of people watch channel 408 and take an interest in what is being said but not out of motivation but rather fear and the comedy factor. Nothing embarrasses me more than when schools come and sit in plenary and watch the shenanigans that take place in the House at times. It concerns me as to what lessons and examples we are setting for our youth. We need to aspire to be better and do better and put South Africa first. Everyone serving in the House should be committed to the goal of making South Africa better.
Question 9: What is your message to South Africa?
South Africa comes from a dark past and in order for it to succeed we need to ensure that we move forward and never return to that divisiveness again. If we achieve true redress and reconciliation, there is nothing that can stop us as a resilient nation. It is incumbent upon us to be part of the solution and inclusion. Do not give oxygen to any politician that is not striving for the political and economic freedom of all its people in our beautiful country.