The local parliamentary constituency office (PCO) was officially introduced in the southern suburbs at the end of last year. It was opened in the Pelican Park Parliamentary Village Hall in Buck Road by advocate Hishaam Mohamed, a member of parliament (MP) for Grassy Park and the southern suburbs.
Having grown up in Lotus River, Mohamed will serve the broader constituency of the southern suburbs that he is passionate about, and holds very dearly in his heart. As an advocate, he is passionate about the law, for people to understand and be involved in the drafting of the country’s laws. This is where he feels, his PCO must play a crucial role. “The role of the PCO is to build partnerships with communities and to facilitate partnerships in the law making process. Our aim is to empower communities and ensure a more safer, caring and responsive government and accessing government resources and by bringing government to the people,” says Mohamed. In his address to the gathering in the hall, he said the role of the PCO in the community is to bring about an equal and just society. “Parliament also sees the MP and the PCO in the community as an extension of its role to bring parliament and the law making process closer to the ordinary citizens on whose behalf it makes and passes laws.
“The two are not exclusive and should play a role in helping both to reach its objectives. We have an opportunity to build our community by utilising the PCO as a central point of unity and as a collective force of our community. The PCO will be an office that is grounded in values of service to the poorest of the poor,” he says. Mohamed also mentioned that the biggest challenges that the country face today is poor service delivery, corruption, mal-administration, crime, gender-based violence and an ailing economy.
“As the PCO we are mandated to strengthen oversight over government and all state organs to ensure that they work effectively and efficiently and are able to account for the expenditure of public funds.
“We also have to address the needs of our people that have been raised during the elections. The PCO must ensure that the people and community are kept abreast of issues that government is engaging in, progress made in implementing ANC resolutions,” he says.
According to him, the PCO will share information with the community and also take mandates and issues raised to parliament. Besides being a link between government and the communities, the PCO connects the people with parliament.
“Community outreach-programmes should therefore be influenced by the material conditions on the ground. We, as MP’s, should also know what the community wants from the MP. Do we have to pay more attention to service delivery to schools, police stations, business development, etc? What laws or regulations must parliament put in place? How can we make our communities safer, ensure we combat violence against women and children and are there issues raised with the Human Rights Commission, Public Protector, IEC, etc? These are all issues that the community can address with the PCO,” Mohamed says.
The purpose of the introduction was to explain to community organisations and the community, the role of the PCO in the communities and what Mohamed as an MP intends to achieve during the present five-year parliamentary term.