After thirteen years of rigorous and dedicated service at the parliament’s office of the Spokesperson, Luzuko Jacobs finally takes a bow out.
Jacobs, who has been serving as the voice of the parliament since 2004 tendered his resignation to the institution so he would take up a position at Rhodes University and to complete his PhD in journalism and media studies.
Speaking at his office, Luzuko Jacobs, also referred to as the Parliament’s very own “Fixer”, took himself down the memory lane to when his journey in the parliament started– first as media manager and later as spokesperson.
He said he has lost count of how many speakers, presiding officers and secretaries he worked under during his time at Parliament.
He describes it as gruelling, complex and complicated, but definitely worth it.
“It was like an academy to me, there is no place like Parliament; it puts you to the test intellectually, spiritually and emotionally. It was definitely one of the most interesting times of my life,” he said, describing how his office demanded everything of him.
“You cannot arrive here with a pre-planned day. One email or one phone call and those plans are out of the window,” he said.
Jacobs also pointed out some of the most controversial issues in the parliament which had affected his career in office. They include the ad hoc committee that is investigating the SABC, and the process of selecting the new Public Protector.
“I will forever treasure it in terms of the way they defined the roles and responsibilities of Parliament. It will go down in history as some of the biggest highlights,” he said, as he mentioned the verbal and physical violence in the chambers as part of the lowlights he experienced.
“South Africans are more aware of Parliament. They are more interested in the business of Parliament – there is much more enthusiasm about Parliament than there was previously – especially amongst young people – than there was in the previous Parliament where things generally appeared very formalistic, staid and structured. Now there is an element of surprise in how Parliament operates. That heightens and deepens the excitement”Luzuko Jacobs noted,
“Look, it’s about the rules. The rules of Parliament are exciting. The rule book was quite thin compared to what we have now. That is an institutional response to things that are coming. That’s exciting,” he said.
“The whole change around the rules, including rules around attendance of MPs, is a package that has changed Parliament. It is not one political party, but all parties … how they sought to keep up with the times” Luzuko Jacobs as he commends the ANC of living up to expectation.
“I think this Parliament will never be the same again. I don’t think we will ever have a boring Parliament – if we ever had one. I don’t think that any political party will ever take lightly the quality of the representation that they need to have in Parliament and no party will ever take lightly the impact and influence of their representation in Parliament on their fortunes or misfortunes.”
Luzuko Jacobs actually resigned back in 2011 already, but Max Sisulu, the speaker at the time, convinced him to stay on.
While entertaining questions from journalists, Jacobs avoided answering questions around more controversial matters that have dented the reputation of the institution. He believes there is room for improvement in how the media covers Parliament and that the focus should not always be on the drama and spectacles.