Fearless Kader Asmal hailed

2011-06-22 23:20

Johannesburg - Kader Asmal was a fearless fighter for freedom and human rights and his death has weakened South Africa's democracy, political parties and civil organisations said on Wednesday after the ANC veteran's death in Cape Town.

President Jacob Zuma said Asmal made a "sterling" contribution to the struggle for liberation and sacrificed a lot in his life to ensure the attainment of freedom and democracy.

"He will be remembered for his energy, forthrightness, efficiency and commitment to making this country a better place each day. He will also always be remembered for his passion for human rights for all."

Asmal, 76, died on Wednesday in Constantiaberg hospital in Cape Town. He was the minister of water affairs and forestry from 1994, a member of the ANC's national executive committee, and education minister from 1999.

Publicly rebuked

Asmal, although an ANC stalwart, never hesitated to criticise when he believed government was wrong.

He was occasionally publicly rebuked by the ANC after raising concerns about party stances he feared threatened democracy.

ID leader and Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille said Asmal had fought for democracy up until the last week of his life.

"Up until the last week of his life, he had been fighting for the rights of South Africans."

Just  last week he voiced his strong opposition to the protection of information bill, urging all South Africans to reject the bill and warned the ANC that rushing it through parliament would destroy trust in the democratic process.

He said he had hoped the weight of public opposition to the so-called "secrecy bill" would by now have persuaded the relevant ministers and MPs "to take this appalling measure back to the drawing board".

"Since this has not happened, my conscience will not let my silence be misunderstood. I ask all South Africans to join me in rejecting this measure in its entirety," he said in a letter sent to the Right 2 Know Campaign, a coalition heading opposition to the legislation.

Worse than a farce

In 2009, Asmal described then deputy police minister Fikile Mbalula's idea of militarising the police service as "craziness" and smacking of "low-level political decision-making".

"The new administration is referring to the militarisation of the police," he told the Cape Town Press Club.

"I have this former head of the youth league [Mbalula] who aspires to be secretary general of the ANC. Ha, really, I hope I won't be alive.

"He said we must militarise the police. We spent days and days in 1991 to get away from the idea of a militarised police force. Extraordinary.

"This is a kind of craziness all of us have to take into account. It is part of that low-level political decision-making without reference to the Cabinet," he said.

ANCYL leader Julius Malema, "tenderpreneurs", and the National Youth Development Agency have also been the target of his criticism, with the NYDA being described as worse than a farce.

Intellectual giant

His criticism of government, however, did not deter the ANC from declaring him one of the party's foremost intellectual giants upon news of his passing.

Spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said Asmal's "immeasurable contribution in the liberation of South Africa" ensured that the ANC earned respect from the international community.

Tributes have also poured in from all elements of the political sphere, including opposition parties.

DA leader Helen Zille said Asmal represented the best of a generation of struggle heroes.

"Asmal was far more than a politician. He represented the best of a generation of struggle heroes who made unimaginable sacrifices to realise a democratic South Africa."

Architect of democracy

Former president Thabo Mbeki called Asmal an outstanding fighter for the liberation of South Africa and one of the architects of democracy.

"All of us who knew and worked with him...could always depend on him as a steadfast fighter for the liberation and advancement of the interests of all South Africans," he said.

IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi described Asmal's death as weakening democracy in South Africa.

"With his death the Republic has lost one of the most vigilant custodians of our freedoms and constitutional order, who never feared to speak up on matters of principle," he said. "One of the greatest independent thinking and outspoken minds has left us."

Robust debates

The SA Communist Party said Asmal loved robust debates and was always in search of new ideas.

"Although we did not always agree with his ideas as the SACP, we respected his intellectual contribution in the task of reconstructing and developing our country," spokesperson Malesela Maleka said.

Cope co-founder Mbhazima Shilowa was shocked and saddened by Asmal's death and described him as an icon and a legend.

"Asmal was one of the very few icons and legends who still upheld the founding values and principles of the democratic movement and the liberation struggle."

Good company

Archbishop Desmond Tutu paid tribute to how Asmal selflessly served the country.

"He served his people and his nation, without a thought of self-enrichment or aggrandisement," he said.

"He added substance and vigour to whatever he did, from the international anti-apartheid movement, to the negotiations that gave birth to our democratic nation, and later, our Constitution; and from the cabinets in which he served under presidents Mandela and Mbeki, to the generations of academics and students he inspired, from Trinity College in Ireland to the University of the Western Cape."

Tutu sent his condolences to Asmal's family saying "if it is any consolation to them in this time of grief, one of the first people Kader will bump into in heaven is a certain Albertina Sisulu. He is in good company".

  • veld66 - 2011-06-22 23:28

    Icon....they talk about him here in Ireland

      Redwine - 2011-06-23 08:34

      I had the pleasure of meeting him at a siminar where he was the guest speaker many years ago. Certainly a very bright man that could articulate his view in no uncertain manner. Our exchanges did not go about politics but industry in general. Pity the brains part of ANC is going down.

  • Marsh - 2011-06-22 23:41

    An intelligent, kind man who spoke with wisdom and reason. A man who had the best interest of his people and the environment at heart. A man who demonstrated how honesty and hard work can shift mountains. May the future leaders of the country follow your lead. RIP, you deserve it.

  • Skrappie - 2011-06-23 00:25

    Joe = Idiot.

  • myancmyfutur - 2011-06-23 00:33

    An independent thinker, a man who stood for what He beleived in, was a true champion who tried to teach all of us what democracy right until his last days.

  • Blip - 2011-06-23 00:42

    He destroyed the school education system with OBE.

      Kuhle - 2011-06-23 01:45

      Yes, and what a grave mistake with massive repercussions that was. But, that's not all he was about. Let's try not to taint yet another article by turning it into a mud-slinging debate.

      CeeCee - 2011-06-23 03:02

      Blip, blaming him for OBE is a bit harsh. Rather blame international and local educational experts and researchers that hailed this system as a fantastic foreward-thinking educational system worldwide a few years ago. Now we know they got it all wrong. Not only is SA sitting with a shoddy system, but so is a westernised country like Britain. The only country that showed some success was Japan.

      courage22 - 2011-06-23 09:49

      Also keep in mind he never implemented OBE. It was his predecesso Sibusiso Benghu who did in about 1997. He bacame Education minister in 1999.

      Richie - 2011-06-23 13:06

      @ CeeCee - the DA made it clear that it was a "for lack of a better word" STUPID-idea! When it was suggested.

  • Goddok - 2011-06-23 01:07

    He was always the perfect gentleman. I will never forget how he defended the rights to democratic views, especially when the rights of the opposition was compromised. May he rest in peace.

  • CeeCee - 2011-06-23 03:05

    a Man to be remembered for his INTEGRITY - that says it all.

  • stofsuier - 2011-06-23 06:03

    Asmal is nou veras

  • naphtaly.calvin - 2011-06-23 06:19

    They came,thy conquered,cherished and lavished life in so many undescribable we are still amazed how they pulled through against the odds!Them generation of selfness is passing in numbers we are going to regret why we did learn of their attitude towards life"TO GIVE TO LIFE AND SELFLESSLY SO" MAY HIS SOUL REST IN PEACE.

  • mollie.kruger - 2011-06-23 06:29

    The era of intelligent, honest, hard-working, principled ANC stalwards is coming to an end. I wonder what the likes of Zuma, Malema, Cele and Manyi will be remembered for one day...

      Otello - 2011-06-23 09:07

      Polarisation, Singing, Jokes, Cartoons, Disgracing the legacy of Oliver Tambo.

      karlkat - 2011-06-23 09:17

      They will be remembered for the wrong reasons, men who changed the face of SA to irreversible damage

      daaivark - 2011-06-23 09:53

      Will they even be remembered? Idiocy doesn't live long in memory. No-one remembers or admits to remembering mistakes.

      khani - 2011-06-23 12:59

      In reference to your question, the first answer that comes to mind is LACK of intelligence.

  • Otello - 2011-06-23 06:33

    ASmal was responsible for the introduction of OBE, a bigger tragedy than Verwoerd's Bantu Education. He betrayed the youth.

      LiraShea - 2011-06-23 09:04

      Yet he did sterling work at Water Affairs that has since been eroded by cronyism. Besides, OBE was not his brainchild alone. Government policy is never decided by a single person.

  • Born To Fish - 2011-06-23 06:51

    And now they will have free reign to change things as the real freedom fighters die!

  • Tc - 2011-06-23 06:58

    I am undecided about Asmal. I do however have an issue with the so-called 'struggle heroes' who came through the Anti-Apartheid struggle, but then continue to endorse the plundering, racism and corruption of the ANC. Sadly, that includes Mandela. That is how we will remember them.

  • - 2011-06-23 07:03

    Another cadre getting god status.

      daaivark - 2011-06-23 09:56

      For someone calling him/herself "newscrawler" you have to one of the most illinformed people I have come across. This man was exceptional, and as a quick aside to Otello, he was NOT responsible for the OBE fiasco. That dubious honour goes to Bhengu. Now go and do some research, newscrawler.

  • ShakaN - 2011-06-23 07:15

    The school system was ruined because of his thinking.

      LiraShea - 2011-06-23 09:07

      As if government policy gets decided by one person. How silly to think that.

      daaivark - 2011-06-23 09:57

      ANd one repeats: OBE was not his brainchild. Blame Bhengu

  • ???? - 2011-06-23 07:31

    he was good

  • Annoy - 2011-06-23 07:39

    An Icon indeed - RIP - Woodwork Malema could learn a thing or two from him

      khani - 2011-06-23 13:02

      Malema learning - Joke of the century.

  • capetonian - 2011-06-23 07:47

    It's so very unfortunate that with his passing, we have lost a politician who was not afraid to critise fellow members of the ANC for their crass and ill thoughtout ideas and comments. It's also a pity that Trevor Manuel does't speak out more often - especially with regard to the ANCYL and their amateurish ideas on the economic front...but then I suppose you have to walk a fine line in order to keep your ministerial position and privileges.

  • Dan - 2011-06-23 08:21

    Without him, the ANC has lost half of its integrity. Now with the sudden rise of self proclaimed importance by Julius Malema, the ANC also lost the other half of what was left of its integrity. Looking at the current cabinet and the big wigs in the ANC, I do get the impression that all decent leader have left the building and only the absolute rubbish remained. Dark days of African democracy have also caught up with us.

  • pop101 - 2011-06-23 08:29

    Isn't he the dude that f-up the SA school system/standards? His action will be remembered by all those trying to undo what he did. RIP.

  • Otello - 2011-06-23 09:03

    Kadar Asmal se nalatenskap: "Uitkoms Gebasseerde Onderwys", samesmelting van onversoenbare universiteitskampusse, die sluiting van Onderwys Kolleges en verandering ter wille van verandering sal dekades en miljoene rande neem om reg te stel. Hy het die jeug in baie opsigte verraai. MAAR gee die duiwel sy eer, hy het voet by stuk gehou oor die handhawing van die Grondwet en het hom sterk uitgespreek teen die voorgestelde wetgewing oor Inligting. Ek het niks teen die idee van Uitkoms Gebasseerde Onderwys nie, slegs die wyse waarop dit toegepas is en word. Na my mening moes hy kon voorsien dat die oorgrote meerderheid van die onderwyskorps nie opgewasse en opgelei was en is om dit te inplimenteer nie. Het hy verwag dat onderwysers wat uit Verwoerd se Bantu onderwys voortgespruit het die mas sou opkom. Hy is deel van die ANC puriste wat nou teen n onrusbarende tempo uitsterf. Daar is net n handjievol oor wat Asmal, die Sisulus, Tambos, en Mandelas as mentor gehad het. Ons praat al reeds van die goeie ou dae en ons demokrasie is nog nie eers mondig nie. Menere Rhamaposa en Sexwale en Manuel sal die mantel moet opneem en die Malema/Zuma gety moet stuit.

  • Mgayi - 2011-06-23 09:33

    rest in peace PROF

  • Michael - 2011-06-23 12:05

    A great man who was a principled and selfless servant of all the people of South Africa. He was articulated, well versed and highly intelligent and most importantly he was not motivated by money or power, rather morality. Our current leaders would do well to consider his example and measure themselves against a man of this stature.

  • Richie - 2011-06-23 13:03

    He's last time he spoke about the ANC he said how ashamed he was of them. He like Tutu and I'm sure Madiba would be disgusted with the current ANC (ANCYL) scum. They have no back-bone and no understanding of economics, the only care about what they can get now and have absolutely no understanding of what this country needs... they are all in way over their heads. The true intellectual giants are disappearing FAST.... how SAD.

  • pages:
  • 1