Former EFF MP hones her legal skills

2016-03-08 12:50
Magdalene Moonsamy (Supplied to News24)

Magdalene Moonsamy (Supplied to News24)

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Cape Town – Economic Freedom Fighters treasurer and former MP, Magdalene Moonsamy, has realised her goal of being admitted as an attorney to the High Court.

"Don't be a backbencher in your own life," said Moonsamy who, in one year, has successfully managed several changes in her life from the personal to the professional.

Last January she resigned as an MP with the robust red-clad opposition party so that she could complete the articles required of her to become a fully fledged attorney.

"It was not the easiest choice in life," Moonsamy told News24.

She wanted to become an attorney, but to do so, had to follow the Law Society of SA's rules and focus on becoming a candidate attorney.

She stayed on as treasurer in the EFF's central command and, to top it all, organised a wedding and married her fiancé, Pragasen Pather.

Activist most of her life

Moonsamy said she has been an activist for most of her life so the rhythms of party work were not difficult to fit in while working at the law firm, Roestoff and Kruse.

But getting used to the environment of a legal practice took some time.

She persevered and on February 29 this year, members of the party, including its leader Julius Malema, proudly joined her and her family as she was admitted as an attorney in the High Court of Johannesburg.

When she walked confidently into Parliament's precinct for President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address in February, it was with an even deeper understanding of how the laws made there can be applied.

Competition law, in particular, which she focused on as a candidate attorney, was a real eye-opener for Moonsamy, who was more used to social issues.

She said she deliberately chose competition and commercial law to expand her own horizons, and to know what it was like to be swamped in 20 000 of pages of work.

Economy warped

"It formed a big understanding of why the economy is so warped, because it has not changed over the years," she reflected.

If 2015 was a "full plate", 2016 might be even busier as she has set her sights on a Masters degree in tax law. And then a PhD.

Moonsamy said women often found themselves sidelined into the stereotype of carer, to the detriment of their careers. And she took umbrage to what she felt was the government's patriarchal approach to women in South Africa.

She said the women's ministry was reduced to a desk in the presidency, and believed the Commission for Gender Equality is "almost defunct".

So women have to start from scratch again. And to make the changes that need to be made, they need the skills. Moonsamy urged women to go out and get skills so that as more opportunities become available, they would be ready.

And they also need to support each other while they are doing it. "We need unity among women. Sometimes we are so busy building ourselves that we tend to step on each other.

"The legal fraternity is dominated by men. Change is coming, and we must prepare ourselves as women to implement the change,'' she said.

EFF supportive

It was not clear yet whether she will return as an MP because of the workload of preparing her dissertation for her Master's degree.

The party was very supportive of her when she asked to go and complete her articles. She said she has been through thick and thin with most of its senior members – from their end days at the African National Congress Youth League to starting the EFF from scratch while they were being ridiculed.

Well known lawyer Dali Mpofu SC, the party's chairperson, was among the people who congratulated her in February.

So the EFF would probably understand if she needed a bit more time to sharpen her skills and to decide whether she will be bringing that change in Parliament or the courtroom.

Read more on:    eff  |  magdalene moonsamy  |  politics

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