Ms Tasneem Motara (ANC)


What is your political background? I joined the African National Congress (ANC) about 16 years ago. I grew up in a very politically active home: some of my family members were in exile, and some of them are still active in politics. I joined the ANC Youth League in 2000 serving in Benoni in the East Rand (now known as Ekurhuleni). I served the ANCYL right up until 2013 and I have been in the ANC Branch Executive Committee of different wards and branches in Benoni. I am currently a member of the Regional Executive Committee of the ANC in Ekhurhuleni. I also served in the South African Students Congress (SASCO) and am still an ANCYL member.

What does your job as MP detail? I am serving in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) representing Gauteng as a Provincial Whip. My responsibility as an MP is to liaise between the Gauteng Provincial Legislature and Parliament. I also serve as a Whip in the multi-party caucus where we are responsible for determining the programme of the NCOP. I serve in the Rules and Programming Committees where we determine rules and programme of the NCOP. I am the Whip of both Select Committees on Finance and Appropriations and my role is to look at oversight issues related to finance and financial health of various municipalities and government departments.

I represent the NCOP in the South African Development Community’s Parliamentary Forum as a permanent member of the Standing Committee for Trade, Finance and Investment. We look at regional trade industry, finance and investment and seek to create synergies in law making in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region to be able to enhance what happens in terms of trade and industry, as well as finance.

I serve as a Commissioner in the Magistrate Commission and we deal with issues related to the Magistrates Court and the functioning of justice. The Commission consists of legislators and executive members of the justice fraternity and we are responsible for the appointment of magistrates and we look at how courts operate.

What is your impression of the Fifth Parliament so far? This is my first term as an MP so it would be difficult to make a comparison to the previous terms of Parliament. I think the first term of the Fifth Parliament has been characterised by more interrogation on the role of Parliament and more attention has been given to what Parliament is supposed to do over and above the law-making process. There is a lot of heated political debate both in the National Assembly and NCOP- although to a lesser extent in the NCOP. The Fifth Parliament has also been characterised by robust debates and the general public is now more interested in what is happening in Parliament as opposed to the previous terms where Parliament was basically known only as a law-making institution. The introduction of new parties and the vigorous kind of debating that is taking place at the moment is putting a spotlight on Parliament.

Where is your constituency? What has been most interesting about constituency work? I am assigned to the Benoni constituency, because ANC policy tries, as much as possible to deploy MPs to the constituencies that they are from. I was born and bred in Benoni and have lived in the area my whole life. I know the issues that affect the majority of people in the area. Benoni is made up of nine wards and has now been incorporated to what is now known as Ekurhuleni Municipality. There is a great divide between poverty and affluence in Benoni and the suburbs in the area are characterised by older people. There is an area called Chief Albert Luthuli that is currently being developed and it seeks to move residents from informal settlements to formalised housing and it is going very well. There are various active political parties and NGOs in Benoni.

I am proud of the fact that Benoni has managed to produce a lot of great leaders in society - from the likes of Oliver Tambo to Rivonia trialists and the actress Charlize Theron. I am too young to specifically identify what I have done in my constituency and I always look to elders whenever when I struggle to achieve a particular objective.

What are you passionate about? This applies both in a political/professional and personal arena? I am currently concluding my Psychology Degree. I have had to shift my attention and began to read and study economics and finance as I am now deployed in the finance committee. It is both challenging and interesting.

I also serve in a group of eminent nation-building and social cohesion champions facilitated by the Premier of Gauteng, Mr David Makhuru. It focuses on breaking down racism and xenophobia. I come from a multiracial family (half of my family is Coloured and Indian; and I have Xhosa and White relatives) and I am passionate about getting people to understand we are all human beings before we are anything else.

I have been very actively involved in the Palestinian struggle and this is because of my family background. I love international politics and I once served in the international relations committee of the ANCYL and proudly represented South Africa on various forums. I am also passionate about the importance of educating all citizens of South Africa with a particular focus on young girls. I strongly believe that education gives women a greater degree of independence and we are likely to see more progress in a society where we educate young girls.

What would your message to South Africans be? I believe that as South Africans we have a lot more to be grateful for than we need to be negative about - we just do not realise how fortunate we are. It is a fact that transitions and regime changes do not often come in peace but South Africa’s own transition came in a very peaceful manner. This is not to say there were no threats from those who were against regime change. We have the potential to be a great society and as South Africans we had not been able to tap into our own potential. Let us not focus on what makes us different but rather on what unites us.

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