Tribute to Helen Suzman statement by Mr Bantu Holomisa, MP (UDM President) (1 January 2009)

On behalf of the UDM, I express my sincere condolences to the family and friends of Helen Suzman, who passed away after a long and eventful life in service to her country.

She was a pioneer of opposition politics; for many years she fought a lonely battle in the old Parliament. She spoke truth to power, despite the odds and the ridicule of those who thought their power was unshakable. When the National Party finally accepted in 1990s that a peaceful transition to democracy was the only option left, she was vindicated. She proved that the size of a party isn?t the most important thing, but rather the quality of its leaders and public representatives.

It is a pity that after 1994 her party changed guise into the DA and then seemed to move in a more conservative direction away from its liberal roots.

Right into her retirement, she was not shy of stating her views; even the then leader of the DA, Mr Tony Leon, was not spared her incisive and principled disagreement when she saw things that she disagreed with.

She was a disciplinarian and highly respected across the political spectrum for her work ethic, dedication and consistent principles.

She leaves a legacy of the value of constructive criticism for nation building. It is fitting that what she started as a lone voice against one-party domination decades ago is today being repeated. Now it is not just one voice, but many ? including even a large chunk of the ruling party which is splitting away ? who are saying one-party dominance is the road to ruin.

May she rest in peace.