Mr Sarel Marais (DA)


What is your political background? How did you become involved in politics?

I have an MBA degree and several years of practical business experience. I served as Mayor for the Rawsonville Transitional Council from 1995 to 2000 and am very active in serving the local disability community. In addition, I served as Deputy Chairperson of the Breede River District Council from 1995 to 2000, DA Speaker and DA Councillor of Breede Valley Municipality from 2000 to 2006, after which I was elected to represent the DA in Parliament (National Assembly). As a DA Member of Parliament (MP), I represented my party in the portfolios of Finance, Trade and Industry, Economic Development, Public Service and Administration, and since 2014, in the Defence and Military Veterans portfolio. I have also been spokesperson and DA Shadow Minister in all these portfolios since 2006.

What does your job as an MP entail?

Primarily it is to serve the electorate of my constituency, my province and South Africa, and to make a contribution that will make South Africa a better place than what I found it in when I was first elected to Parliament. I represent the DA as its National Spokesperson and Shadow Minister in the Defence and Military Veterans portfolio.

My job is to be the “champion” of all portfolio issues, and the DA will revert all defence and military veterans queries and questions to me. I liaise with the press on all portfolio related issues and lead the DA in all debates and matters raised in Parliament related to my portfolio.

I also liaise with as many reliable and reputable industry stakeholders to empower myself with the best possible knowledge and information relevant to the challenges and related matters. In my previous portfolios I also liaised with all my provincial legislature colleagues to make sure that we all have the same focus and message. My other main obligation is my constituency work where I am the DA’s Political Leader for my area and have to liaise and work with my DA councillors, mayors and Mayoral Committee members.

What are your thoughts about the Fifth Parliament so far?

I have served Parliament since the Third Parliament, and it is evident to me that the Fifth Parliament differs substantially. The level of debate and respect in the Assembly has dropped to worrying levels. The previous parliaments showed a much bigger spirit of cooperation where parties did not differ for the sake of differing, but differences were always motivated and qualified. We never had the embarrassments by the Executive authority as we have it now.

The positive aspects are that we have a lot more younger members, albeit not with the wisdom and maturity one obtains only over years and with experience. It seems as if the shackles of a one-party dominant system are busy fading.

What constituency area have you been assigned to by your party? What constituency work have you been involved with or how have you helped members of the public so far? What aspects interest you the most about constituency work?

I was assigned to the Breede Valley Constituency by the DA in 2009. I have always been involved in community service, and am still very much involved in the world of disabled persons. I still serve on the executive of the SA Sport Association for the Physically Disabled, the SA National Paralympic Committee and the SA Olympic Committee.

My constituency work mainly focuses on representing the public in any matter related to public service where politics has a role to play. This can be in terms of investment, roads, development, home affairs, agricultural or farm worker matters. I have a Constituency Management team and together we drive all the DA political activities such as the registration of voters, and getting them out to vote for us is paramount. It is also my job and task to identify capacity, knowledge and skills required by DA councillors to be able to be an excellent and efficient local government. In 2011, the DA took control of the Breede Valley Council and has since received 3 consecutive clean audits. We must create the environment for economic growth and job creation and so far we have been very successful.

What are you most passionate about - this applies both in a political/professional arena as well as personally?

I am passionate about serving communities, especially those on the edges of society, most profoundly the poor, previously disadvantaged and especially the disabled. I reside in my constituency which means I am constantly in contact with my community, my DA structures, and my DA Governed Breede Valley Council.

My wife and I have two children – a son and a 30 year old daughter who suffers from severe and multiple disabilities. I am crazy about sport, and spend most of my “off time” on sport administration, especially in support of our SA Paralympians.

I love to empower myself with knowledge and this often leads to financial costing, cost benefit analysis, and viability studies.

What would your message to South Africa be?

We have a unique country with unique diversity and excellent opportunities for very South African. If each person equips him or herself with the knowledge and skills we require, we will overcome any obstacle in our way.

We need each other in South Africa to build a better tomorrow. I have no place else to go, and have no relations with any other country. Together we can create a better South Africa, and leave a good legacy for generations to come.

We must never ever forget the political wrongs of the past and we must do whatever is required not to repeat these wrongs. It is important that we must focus the future on building a better South Africa. One can never build a better tomorrow by focusing on the past.

Let us make sure that our children are empowered with knowledge and skills to create the environment for a prosperous economic growth and job creation. This will help to eradicate poverty, unemployment and give self-respect and pride to each one to live and work in support of each other.

We must create a free, fair and opportunity driven society where we respect the rule of law, and where nobody is above the law.

We must respect the autonomy of business to have the environment and opportunities to develop the economy and create production and jobs that can earn us the revenue we need to assure that each and every person can live his or her dreams and make use of the abundance of opportunities in life.

To learn more about this Member, see his profile here.


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