Motion Of Condolence On The Passing Of Professor Kader Asmal
Tribute by Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
President of the Inkatha Freedom Party

 

 

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 legislation.

 

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 comrade.