Being a member of Parliament (MP) isn’t all about SONA and media circuses. BTS, MPs should be working to amplify our voices by representing our best interests, challenging decisions, questioning other MPs and our Cabinet and, ultimately, holding our President to account.
Ever wondered what a day in the life of an MP looks like – and if it could be the career choice for you?
We asked Liezl van der Merwe, of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), to break down a typical day:
6am: My alarm goes off. The night before, my ambition is ALWAYS to get to the gym by 6:20am. I’d be lying if I say this happens often! Usually the lure of another few minutes is just too powerful. Beauty sleep is important, you know!
6.30am: The alarm goes off again. Now, I take Billy and Duke (my two pugs) for a quick run. We don’t venture too far from home… LOL.
7:15am: I start getting ready for work. It’s always a mission finding the right outfit. Black is a safe bet, so it dominates my wardrobe. It’s also a mission to tame my frizzy, curly hair, but I give it my best shot.
— Liezl van der Merwe (@Liezl_vdMerwe) October 17, 2016
8am: I rush out of the house. Probably without makeup, and with crazy hair. I grab water and fruit, and hit the road. The next hour will be spent in traffic.
9am: I arrive at the office. I quickly catch up on the morning news. My standard breakfast is eNCA, News24 and the daily newspapers.
9.30am: Off to my first portfolio committee meeting. (I serve on two portfolio committees: Social Development and Women.) We spend the next three hours engaging officials from the ministries, or the actual Minister. We receive presentations of interest from various role players. We process legislation. And more often than not, we have a few major debates and disagreements.
12.30pm: Committee finishes and I make my way back to the office.
— Liezl van der Merwe (@Liezl_vdMerwe) December 2, 2016
1pm: I know it’s lunch time, but there’s no time for lunch! The mad prep has started for the afternoon’s Sitting of the National Assembly. As a whip, I make sure that my caucus colleagues are prepared for motions, members’ statements, questions and speeches. Of course, my own contribution must be ready too.
1.50pm: Bells start ringing in the corridors, signalling us to make our way to the National Assembly.
2pm: The Sitting starts. We commence with silent prayer or mediation.
2.05pm: We take our seats. Sometime in the next few hours, I will deliver a motion, ask a question, participate in a debate or deliver a member’s statement.
6.30pm: If we’re lucky, the Sitting will end. But it’s completely unpredictable. National Assembly can finish as early as 3pm or as late as midnight.
— Liezl van der Merwe (@Liezl_vdMerwe) September 10, 2016
7pm: (On a good day) I get home. Now, it’s time to clean the house, feed the pugs, do the ironing and make dinner. I love cooking, and I’m a proud braai master! But on those inevitable days when I can’t face the kitchen, I’ll have dinner after work with my bestie Mkhuleko Hlengwa MP or my girlfriends.
— Liezl van der Merwe (@Liezl_vdMerwe) March 14, 2017
8.30pm: I start preparing for the next day’s portfolio committee meeting. This means reading through all the documents for the next day, applying my mind to the issues at hand, and then doing my own research. I make endless notes.
— Liezl van der Merwe (@Liezl_vdMerwe) February 9, 2017
10.30pm: I get to bed. Sleep? No! This is Me Time, spent with eNCA, Al Jazeera, CNN and the cooking channels. Or perhaps a book…
11.15pm: Obeying my body, I fall asleep (hopefully!)
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