YCL: Asmal was 'Papa Action'
Johannesburg - The death of outspoken "Papa Action" Kader Asmal was a loss not only to his family, but to South Africa, the Young Communist League (YCL) said on Thursday.
The league had not always agreed with Asmal, especially on the merging of colleges and universities, and his resignation from Cabinet over the closing of the Scorpions, but regarded him as one of the "greatest political leaders of our time", national secretary Buti Manamela said in a statement.
"Although, like all of us, he was fallible, he was always guided by the torch that was lit by the founders of the ANC and the entire liberation movement."
Asmal died aged 76 in hospital in Cape Town on Wednesday after having a heart attack on Tuesday.
Manamela said he first met Asmal when he was a 19-year-old student representative in the National Advisory Board for Further Education and Training, and deputy president of the SA Students Congress (Sasco).
"I [had] already heard of this short timer who was a chain-smoker, rough voiced, straight faced, [an] intimidating force and an academic par excellence and a man of action... We quickly nicknamed him Papa Action due to the manner in which he wanted to approach education transformation and the need to be hands-on by all structures."
Dennis George, Federation of Unions of SA general secretary, recalled sharing braaied snoek and Rooibos tea with Asmal after an address to Transnet workers in Saldanha Bay.
"He was not just a great intellectual with principles rooted in the idea of democracy for all, but he offered viable solutions, suggestions, and strongly believed in open channels of communication."
Praise from Cosatu, ANCWL
The University of KwaZulu-Natal called him "fiercely independent" in thought and said he would be remembered for his selfless and bold ability to challenge controversial opinion and engage in robust debate.
The Congress of SA Trade Unions said he was prepared to get his hands dirty grappling with problems in water affairs and education.
"Comrade Asmal was from the generation of ANC leaders who lived only to serve the movement and the people of South Africa and never sought to advance his own interests. We must honour his memory by aspiring to live by the very high standards he set for himself and his comrades."
ANC Women's League president Angie Motshekga said Asmal believed in women's emancipation and had played a big role in drafting the organisation's constitution, before the unbanning of the ANC liberation movement.
The league sent sympathies to his family and called him a "daring champion of constitutional democracy".
The Ubuntu Development Forum called him a "great human being, a gentleman and a great patriot".