Dr Mathole Motshekga (ANC)


What is your political background and what attracted you to your political party?

I was born and bred in a rural area in Limpopo and my father worked as a ranger on a white-owned farm. I was 13 years old when my father and his white colleague got into an altercation at work. When the altercation became physical I began to understand the depth and the extent of racial segregation, because my father was accused of something he did not do. It was my father's self-reliance and the racial segregation I witnessed as a young boy that peaked my interest.

When I finished my high school career in 1969, I got a job as a clerk at the University of the North in 1970. This was around the time that political unrest was building up in schools and I wanted to contribute towards fighting against the injustice of black oppression in the country.

I enrolled to study law, and came across the type of work that Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo and others were involved in. In 1976, when the student protest broke out in Soweto and Langa, I moved to Pretoria to serve articles as a lawyer. Although, I wanted to move closer to the place in which the protests were taking place, I couldn’t at the time because I was taking care of my younger siblings’ education.

When I enrolled for a doctorate, I did my research on the concept of the law and the justice system influenced by the unjust system at the time. I got a scholarship to go to Germany in 1979 and I did my research there. I got in touch with the PAC and ANC exiles and I was attracted from the onset to the ANC, perhaps because the founding members were lawyers as well and because of their values. I felt that the ANC was a vehicle that one could use in the struggle against white domination. I began to do solidarity work for the ANC in Germany by explaining the situation in the country and to mobilise support.

I went to the USA in 1980 to study and again I got in touch with the ANC there to do solidarity work. Government agents picked that up, and so they refused to renew my passport. However, due to the fact that I had already established some connections in Germany, it was easier for me to return to South Africa from Germany.

When I arrived in South Africa I was appointed senior lecturer at UNISA and I maintained my contacts in the USA and Germany. In 1986 I was sent to Lusaka to facilitate some ground work for the ANC and in 1987 I was part of a team of lawyers that went to Tanzania for a conference called The World United Against Apartheid, where we discussed the legitimacy and legality of the apartheid system. Around that time the western governments were putting pressure on the then South African government to negotiate with the ANC.

I was appointed to lead PASA to mobilise academics and students to do research and produce policy options for a new South Africa. In 1989, we opened another ground office at Wits, and we worked with UWC as well. The apartheid government obtained a list of the people that I was working with and as punishment suspended my passport and I remained grounded in the country. I went on to establish the second biggest branch of the ANC in Tembisa. In 1990 I was appointed as the Deputy Chairperson of the Gauteng province when Tokyo Sexwale was the Chairperson.

What does your job as an MP entail?

I served as the Chief Whip of the ANC from 2009 until 2012 and thereafter I was appointed to chair the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services. I also serve in the NEC of the ANC. As the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services I must ensure that all the political parties in the Committee are heard but also ensure that the views of the party are reflected and communicated appropriately.

What was your impression of the Fifth Parliament?

I think it is a sad story because Parliament is a people’s assembly and it is where the interests of the people need to be put above any other. There is a high level of political intolerance and when things get reduced to political degeneration we become a joke in the eyes of the public. It has now become an "entertainment house" and the substance of it is now lost. The situation is discouraging democracy and if we continue down this path our people will not vote. The political degeneration in the House may actually be a reflection of moral degeneration in our communities. This degeneration from both ends requires the governing party to channel resources in educating people about morals, principles and ethnicity. And these things are essential to build strong characters.

Which constituency area are you assigned to by your political party? What do you enjoy most about constituency work?

I was assigned to Limpopo in the Mopane region. I enjoy working there because it is a rural area. I convened meetings for school drop-outs and unemployed graduates and I called government departments to be part of the meetings to provide the young people with access to information about employment, bursaries and internships.

What are you most passionate about?

Youth and children development is what am most passionate about. All I can do during the last days of my life is to promote young children and women and provide access to information to the youth who lack such opportunities in order to advance. My life pretty much revolves around community development.

What would your message to south Africans be?

Morals and ethical values are building blocks of a just and caring society and that is the fountainhead of our common humanity (Ubuntu) as South Africans, both black and white. If we can embrace the concept of Ubuntu there would be no place for tribalism and xenophobia in our country. Ubuntu is a prerequisite for social coalition and nation building and as South Africans we have something special that other people in other countries do not have. We must tap into that realm and embrace it. We must let go of advocacy and take action by going out to educate children about these principles.

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