Motion of Condolence for
the Hon. Dr Tshabalala-Msimang MP

 

By Mr BM Skosana MP
Inkatha Freedom Party
 

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 dawn.

 

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 1990.

 

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.