We are an activist legislature that Champions Democracy!
In order to mark 22 years of democracy it is important to reflect on some of the key issues/features of the country’s young democracy. This features focuses on a range of aspects such as socio-economic and health policies; formation of new political parties; Role of institutions such as the Independent Electoral Commission, Public Protectors Office, Labour Court, Equality Court and the Constitutional Court; and major events which came and passed
The Free State Legislature embarked on a voter registration programme from the 1st of July and still in the process. The timing is relevant as the country prepares itself for the upcoming local government elections scheduled to take place in August. The programme is in actual fact a mandate of the Legislature as it also feeds into its functions, particularly Legislation, Oversight and Public participation.
It’s been hectic, had to travel on gravel roads, listen to disturbing stories of people living in the Rural and Farming communities, stories some only read in newspapers.
I was moved by a 12 years old girl (Mpho), who has been living with HIV for quite some time and has defaulted badly on treatment, a girl who has so much courage to face life threatening challenges; a girl who like me and many others, was taken advantage of and yet, a girl so brave….She looked so malnourished, very sick and somehow emotionally disturbed, I could feel her broken soul, but she wore such a beautiful smile only few that could read emotions could tell that she’s hurting
Mpho lost her mother at the age of 4 due to HIV related illnesses and since then, she had no stable place to call home, she lacks sense of belonging due to a fact that her father has no legal documentation and as a result, moves from one farm to the other to find a job. BUT what happened to Mpho was my concern……When the Speaker of the Free State Legislature Me Mamiki Qabathe assigned me to visit and follow up on this matter, well, I didn’t hesitate but had mixed emotions as to where to start, then I reached out to colleagues, who were present during the oversight visit, who then accompanied me to the farm only to learn that Mpho had been moved, a good samaritan was willing to take us to where she could be, and she was found though in a more alarming state
This was a time for short notices and quick responses, Mpho had developed extensive mouth ulcers and was feverish, took both father and daughter to the nearest clinic for help, where at first the administrator refused to assist us unless we have a file number which we obviously didn’t have. I have to thank the Matron in Henneman Clinic for such a professional and prompt response, within no time, Mpho was attended and referred to the Hospital where I had already made arrangements for Mpho’s assistance. On arrival, there were two Drs’, a Social Worker and Community development Practitioner waiting to serve our Very Important Person a service well rendered I have to say.
In the mist of all these; there was a moment when I was scared and petrified, the girl reached out to my hand and softly said; ‘Why do you look so sad and scared?” I wanted to play brave for the both of us, but I couldn’t! She then said, “Don’t be scared, they won’t hurt you, people are scared of me because I have AIDS, and they fear for their lives.” I was speechless………………..still am.
I wish to thank the Government officials who urgently responded to the call, officials who waited until Mpho was admitted and at comfort in Hospital, Officials who are, today in the field to further investigate what really happened to Mpho, a team that is facilitating and helping the father through the process of late registration of birth which will enable him to register for an identity document and one day; actively participate in decisions that affects both his and her daughters lives and like all ordinary citizens of this country Register to Vote
In my years of public service at Local, Regional and International level, I have had the privilege of representing most of the communities that were often left out. For me; it’s appropriate to celebrate public service, and the thoughtful people who choose to serve. They symbolize what is good and decent about this historic citizen legislature, and we thank them. I thank Free State Legislature for having people who sees Public Service as a complete dedication to the people and to the nation.
Kgothatso Sparkle Mokoena