Samantha Graham-Maré, newly-elected Member of Parliament, has already made her mark in her first few months in office.
She has been assigned to the Portfolio Committee of Public Works and Infrastructure. Debates on the budgets of every department took place over two weeks in Parliament, and Graham-Maré had her first opportunity to prepare a speech on the budget and present it in Parliament on 10 July. “It went very well, despite my extreme nervousness,” she said.
Also within this term was Questions to the Deputy President which was on Thursday, 25 July. The Deputy President is provided with six written questions from various parties which he is given in advance in order to prepare a response. Graham-Maré was one of the few on the Speaker’s list and got to ask the Deputy President a question on EPWP. In this, she suggested that “EPWP is nothing more than a social security programme, despite it being used as a measure for government’s ability to create work opportunities. Nowhere is this more evident than in the fact that EPWP participants are paid at 55% of the minimum wage.”
“It was almost more terrifying than doing my budget speech,” she admitted. “It was an incredible honour for a new MP -there are many MPs who have been in Parliament for a number of years who have never had the opportunity to ask the President or Deputy President a question.”
She has settled into her house in Acacia Park, one of the Parliamentary Villages, located in Goodwood. Although only 16kms from Parliament, with the heavy Cape Town traffic it usually takes close to an hour to get to Parliament in the morning. This is somewhat of a change after Graaff-Reinet traffic!
For recreation, she has joined the Parliamentary Squash Club and plays in the C Team. She has played in three matches so far, and is thoroughly enjoying the experience.
MPs were recently on a Constituency Break, which gave her a chance to spend time working with councillors and activists within the Dr Beyers Naude constituency.
The next parliamentary term commenced on 20 August, and that term is only five weeks until 20 September. After this, there is another two week Constituency period before the final term of the year. Residents of Dr Beyers Naude Local Municipality can rest assured that although Graham-Maré is no longer a councillor, she is still very actively concerned with local affairs.