Victoria Hasson

Dr Victoria Hasson is so passionate about parliaments that if she wasn’t already working in the South African Parliament she would join a think-tank to petition for parliamentary reform from the outside. Hasson runs the DA chief whip’s office and also heads the party’s research and support office. Her role is to ensure that DA MPs are equipped to perform effectively and are given good procedural and research support. She also assists the chief whip by providing strategic and procedural support in respect of Parliament’s internal functioning. With a PhD from the University of Sheffield — her thesis was on “Deliberation and Parliamentary Procedure in the Parliament of South Africa” — she is probably the best person for the job. “I worked as part of a research team which cross-compared the parliaments of Westminster, India and South Africa. My particular focus was on the question of whether the new Parliament of South Africa befits the deliberative ideals it has set for itself and which are enshrined in the Constitution. The answer to the question was, ‘no, it doesn’t’.” Hasson says “communist-like” use or abuse of the term “people’s Parliament” should be dismissed and replaced with “sincere forms of public representation”. “In order for this to be achieved, the Assembly must assert itself. Laziness and ignorance must be replaced by detailed and substantive oversight; pantomime question time must be replaced with reason-giving and public accountability. If this happens then Parliament won’t need to spend R70-million a year on promoting itself as a ‘people’s Parliament’.” Among her professional highlights, Hasson lists supporting the DA’s parliamentary leader, Lindiwe Mazibuko, in her fight to move a motion of no confidence in the president. “It was the lowlight of my career when [the motion] was deemed ‘frivolous’ by the ANC,” she says. — Andisiwe Makinana