He­len Suz­man cen­te­nary stamp a fit­ting trib­ute

Cape Times - - INSIGHT - Ge­orge Devenish Devenish is Emer­i­tus Pro­fes­sor at UKZN and one of the schol­ars who as­sisted in draft­ing the In­terim Con­sti­tu­tion in 1993.

THE SA Post Of­fice has is­sued a postage stamp to com­mem­o­rate the cen­te­nary of the birth of He­len Suz­man on Novem­ber 7, 1917.

This was a mo­men­tous day in world his­tory, as it was the date of the Rus­sian Revo­lu­tion.

Al­though Suz­man was no com­mu­nist or so­cial­ist, she al­ways took great glee in re­lat­ing that she was born on this great por­ten­tous date. She died on Jan­uary 1, 2009 at the ripe age of 91.

He­len Suz­man was a re­mark­able woman and it is fit­ting that we as South Africans cel­e­brate her out­stand­ing con­tri­bu­tion to hu­man rights and democ­racy that we as a na­tion are the re­cip­i­ents of today.

She was in­deed a per­son en­dowed with in­or­di­nate po­lit­i­cal and moral courage. She was also a lib­eral demo­crat with an acute sense of so­cial jus­tice and a tire­less po­lit­i­cal fighter for the rights of South Africa’s marginalised and dis­pos­sessed.

In her as­sertive and tena­cious style, she epit­o­mised a par­lia­men­tary strug­gle for hu­man dig­nity and rights for all.

Suz­man was more than a tough po­lit­i­cal fighter, she em­ployed an im­pec­ca­bly in­formed and re­searched strat­egy of in­ci­sive de­bate that in­vari­ably went to the heart of the is­sues she ad­dressed.

All this re­quired ded­i­ca­tion and hard work. She was in­tel­lec­tu­ally for­mi­da­ble and po­lit­i­cally in­de­fati­ga­ble. Her ef­forts as a hu­man rights ex­po­nent and par­lia­men­tar­ian have been recog­nised all over the world.

As a par­lia­men­tar­ian, fight­ing alone a heroic bat­tle against an evil sys­tem in the House of As­sem­bly for 13 years, her con­tri­bu­tion was un­par­al­leled.

The Times ob­served of the role she played in the dark and long years of apartheid rule that, “in all the an­nals of par­lia­men­tar­i­an­ism in the English-speak­ing world, He­len Suz­man may have been the best there has ever been”.

In sim­i­lar vein, The Ob­server has com­mented: “Com­bat­ive and coura­geous, He­len Suz­man’s po­lit­i­cal life is on a heroic scale.”

Al­though in­volved in the rough and tum­ble of party pol­i­tics in South Africa, she al­ways acted ac­cord­ing to pro­found lib­eral con­vic­tions.

Suz­man was a car­ing and com­pas­sion­ate per­son. She was, in my view, the great­est par­lia­men­tar­ian this coun­try has pro­duced and in this re­gard ranks with the best in the world.

It is there­fore fit­ting that we com­mem­o­rate the cen­te­nary of her birth with a postage stamp. The Post Of­fice should be com­mended for this.

Pic­ture: AP

LEAD­ING LIGHTS: Anti-apartheid ac­tivist He­len Suz­man with Nel­son Man­dela in 1990.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.