National Assembly: 23 June 2011
The death of former Minister and freedom fighter
Kader Asmal has weakened our democracy and impoverished our
Republic. One of the greatest independent thinkers has left us.
I had the pleasure of serving in Cabinet with
Professor Asmal for ten years. Despite his being the Minister of Water Affairs,
he soon acquired the nickname "Minister of All Portfolios", because
he dutifully read all Cabinet memoranda and provided his
contribution. He set the standard of hard work, competence and
efficiency at Cabinet level.
He was an indefatigable worker, who believed in
the dignity and necessity of work. And he worked until the very end.
Last Monday he presided over a meeting of the Parliamentary
Institute of South Africa, a brainchild of his which will soon be
launched, to enrich our democracy. The Institute will be his legacy
amongst us in this Parliament. Last week Professor Asmal was
labouring over his important contribution to protect our Republic
and its democracy from the inherent threats in the proposed secrecy
With his death the Republic has lost one of the
most vigilant custodians of our freedoms and constitutional order.
He never feared to speak up on matters of principle. He will remain
an example of a courageous life, inspired by the highest values a
democrat and a man of principle can aspire to.
Professor Asmal was dedicated to the struggle for
democracy, within the liberal tradition of tolerance and the pursuit
of maximum freedom and liberty. He inspired the ANC liberalists. One
hopes that his liberal spirit will continue to inspire us all.
I can only hope that the ANC will honour his
example by teaching the values which forged our generation, so that
they may also shape our younger generation.
It is up to us to decide whether Professor Kader
Asmal will continue to live in spirit, by upholding all that this
Republic of ours stands for. We can choose to continue to live by
the legacy of outspoken, uncompromising and unwavering democratic
vigilance, which Kader Asmal taught us. Or we can yield to the
weakness of closing our eyes to the ongoing democratic degeneration,
keeping silent while what we built disintegrates slowly. If we do
the latter, we ourselves shall cause the death of Kader Asmal more
than any physical ailment. But if we do the former, we shall ensure
that whenever we speak in this House to defend democracy, the spirit
and legacy of Kader Asmal shall continue.
I offer my and my Party's condolences to the Asmal
family, and to the leadership of the ANC who have lost such a great