National Assembly: 18 February 2010
On behalf of the Inkatha Freedom Party and
its President, Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi, I rise to add my voice
to the many who offered condolences to the family, colleagues and
friends of the late Dr Tshabalala-Msimang. Our thoughts have been
with her husband and her two daughters during this trying time of
mourning. We pray that their dark night will quickly give way to
We in this House feel the absence of Dr
Tshabalala-Msimang. Today we pay tribute to a woman who dedicated
her life to the cause of political liberation and, once it was
achieved, served our nation as a Member of Parliament and a
Minister. Dr Tshabalala-Msimang was an intelligent woman and a
patriot. While in exile during the banning of the ANC, she acquired
an education in medicine which she brought back to South Africa in
After South Africa's liberation, Dr
Tshabalala-Msimang spent many years in the spotlight of public
service. Her words and actions were closely watched and reported on
across the world. At a time in which South Africa was losing the
terrible battle with HIV/Aids and Tuberculosis, Dr
Tshabalala-Msimang was given the unenviable task of leading the
Ministry of Health.
For several years, Dr Tshabalala-Msimang
herself struggled with some kind of illness and her life was
eventually cut short because of it. It is sad that she lived only
two years after undergoing a life-saving operation, giving us
another reminder of the fragility and gift of life.
Dr Tshabalala-Msimang focused South Africa's
attention on preventative medicine. Yet her passing draws our
thoughts to another aspect of the health portfolio; that of
palliative care. There are so many of our people living with pain,
discomfort or the prospect of death. How do we, as leaders, extend
hope or comfort to them?
Our first line of action must be to meet
their immediate medical needs, whether that be anti-retroviral
treatment, a transplant, an operation or restorative therapy. But
that is not where our responsibility ends. We have a responsibility
to enhance the standard of life of all our people. After all, living
with sickness is exponentially more difficult when one is also
struggling with poverty, ignorance or despair.
In memory of Dr Tshabalala-Msimang, I wish
to express support for all those living with disease today,
uncertain of how many more days they will be granted. All our lives
are measured; we all have a beginning and an end. The lesson perhaps
is to live each moment intentionally. It would be a wonderful
tribute if, at the end of our lives, it could be said that we
enhanced the lives of others by our own actions and words.
Dr Tshabalala-Msimang shouldered an onerous
burden in the service of our nation. She accepted to fill a role
that would inevitably be scrutinized by the world. There are not
many with the leadership ability to face such a responsibility. This
House has lost a woman of great courage.
Quoting from the funeral oration of
Pericles: "The living have envy to contend with, while those who are
no longer in our path are honoured with goodwill and to which
rivalry does not enter."
May her soul rest in peace.