Mr Mohapi Jihad Mohapi (ANC)


What is your political background? My political activism started in 1985 when I was in grade 9 at Kananelo Secondary High School in Kroonstad in the Free State. I became involved in the Congress of South African Students (COSAS) activities. At the time we were addressing the plight of black students using student politics of that time. Thereafter I participated in a youth league formation called the Maokeng Youth Congress (MAYCO). I then joined the South African Youth Congress (Maokeng Branch) where I was elected the chairperson of the Arts and Culture help desk where we dealt with all culture related matters.

Just before the unbanning of the ANC in 1990, I became involved in the ‘Release Mandela’ campaign which was spearheaded by the United Democratic Front (UDF) through the Maokeng Democratic Crisis Committee which was the UDF mouthpiece. During those times we repeatedly embarked on consumer, class and bus boycotts. At one point I participated in a forceful sit-in of Boitumelo Regional Hospital in Kroonstad as the black populace had a challenge with the management of the hospital at that time.

I also participated in the Self Defence Units (SDU’s) of the ANC underground in the same period just after 1990. During the integration of the military forces I opted not to be part of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and thus I was demobilised and became an Mkhonto Wesizwe Military Veteran (MKV).

In the ANC establishment from 1991 I was elected deputy and actual branch secretary of the ANC (Constantia branch) I also became deputy and actual regional secretary and chairperson in the same period for the ANC youth league in the Free State though it was referred to as the Northern Free State Region. I currently sit on the Provincial Executive Committee (PEC) of the ANC in the Free State.

During the transitional period of government I was a member of the Kroonstad Transitional Council (KTC) and from 1995-2000, I served as a ward councillor and became the chairperson of the executive committee in the Kroonstad local municipality which oversaw the implementation of annual changes in the operations of the municipality. In the same period, I chaired the Free State Local Government Association (FREELOGA) committees on governance, and training and education. I was also chairperson of the Human Resources and Labour committees of the provincial government. At the time the University of South Africa (Unisa) identified councillors to train to be facilitators in local government where they would be training other ward councillors and committees on local government work.

From 2001 to 2006 the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) contracted me to continue training ward councillors. During that time the National Department of Health had also contracted me to facilitate some components of its HIV/AIDS programme.

In 2006 I was re-elected as Speaker of the Moqhaka Local Municipality where after I was elected the Mayor of Moqhaka. I could not finish my term of office as I was redeployed to Parliament after the 2014 national elections by the ANC. In parliament I chair the Select Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA).

What does your job as an MP entail? Since I am serving in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) I represent the mandate of my province (Free State). I participate in the processing of section 75 and 76 Bills and in my committee we deal with issues pertaining to COGTA. We work with municipalities at local level, Members of the Executive Council (MECs) at provincial level and the Minister of COGTA nationally. We also work with the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA), and the Ministries of Youth and Women in the Presidency and Intergovernmental Relations (IGR) at national level.

What is your impression of the Fifth Parliament? South African democracy is evolving and maturing which means change in terms of the opposition and type of engagement taking place in the National Assembly. The robustness of exchanges - although not always in line with parliamentary convention also keeps the ANC as the ruling party on its toes and ensures that we are more responsive to challenges that the country is facing. In the NCOP there is definitely a lot more stability and coherent working relationships between the various parties represented there as a result of the leadership of the office bearers. During joint sittings we have experienced quite a number of intensified debates which are appreciated.

What constituency area have you been assigned to you by your party? What is most interesting about your constituency work so far? My constituency is in Parys in the northern parts of the Free State, which is also where the current Premier of the Free State Mr Ace Magashule as well as the current SALGA Chairperson Mr Thabo Manyoni were all born and bred. It is an area where leadership has been produced. In my constituency I work with a management committee where most recently we invited the Ministries of Small Business Development, Tourism, Environmental Affairs, the Provincial Department of Economic Development, the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) and the Small Enterprise Finance Agency (SEFA) to a joint workshop. We identified small, medium and micro-sized enterprises (SMMEs) so that our intervention in assisting these SMMEs would not only be a talk shop but a commitment that could materialise. To date SMMEs that were manufacturing have been incubated with a task team to ensure that the challenges faced by those small businesses are addressed. We have also been dealing with quite a lot of cases of illegal farm evictions and labour matters at my constituency office.

What are you most passionate about - this applies both in a political/professional arena as well as personally? My biggest passion is local government, because it is at the coalface of government relations and it represents both provincial and national government. It is also the closest form of government to ordinary citizens. I strongly subscribe to the preamble of the Freedom Charter which says that ‘no government can just claim authority unless it is based on the will of the people’. I am passionate about local government, because that is where we have to ensure we couple public participation with education. Others may think 22 years is long enough to do better, but it is too short a period.

What would your message to South Africans be? I urge South Africans to go out in their numbers and vote for the ANC. From where we come from, to where we are currently and to where we are going, the ANC admits that as much as it has delivered and reached out to South Africans, a lot more remains to be done. Giving the ANC another opportunity to continue with its good work is the most logical and progressive way to move the country forward.

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