Vause Raw dies

2001-03-13 21:32

Durban - Veteran politician Vause Raw has died in Durban after a long illness.

He would have turned 80 this year.

Raw rose to prominence in the now-defunct United Party (UP) as the party's fortunes waned after it was voted out of office in a landslide defeat by the National Party in 1948.

He later became a founder, the chairman and then national leader of the New Republic Party (NRP), formed in 1977 after the break-up of the UP, which started splintering after 1959 when MPs, including veteran anti-apartheid fighter Helen Suzman, left to form a series of parties that eventually became the Democratic Party.

In 1984 he was made honorary life president of the NRP, a position he held until the party was dissolved in March 1988 when most remaining members joined the National Party.

Democratic Party chief whip Douglas Gibson said he remembered Raw well.

"He was a very prominent politician in his day, who had a reputation for making feisty speeches," he said.

"I served with him in the United Party until about 30 years ago and then became a political opponent."

Fought For Ex-Servicemen

Gibson said Raw had a reputation for fighting for ex- servicemen, especially from the Second World War.

"A lot of people in politics and outside of it will be saddened by his death," Gibson concluded.

"Vause was certainly a doughty fighter, but I never agreed with anything he said," commented Suzman, when told the news.

"He was always a very right-wing United Party member and one of the reasons I left it in 1959 - along with his mentor Douglas Mitchell," she said.

Vause Raw was born on September 21, 1921, in Durban, matriculated from Pretoria Boys High and attended the University of the Witwatersrand and the Johannesburg Teachers' Training College before enlisting with the South African forces in May 1940.

He saw military service in central Africa, Egypt and Europe, and was mentioned in despatches.

Between 1946 and 1950 he was joined his father in a farming and trading venture in the Cullinan area, north of Pretoria, served as secretary to the Pretoria District Farmers' Union and was appointed a director of the Waterberg Farmers' Co-operative.

In 1954 he became sales manager of a textile knitting mill and from 1956 to 1981 ran his own textile and clothing machinery agency.

He served as vice chairman of the United Party's Pretoria District and was elected to the divisional committee in 1948. He served on the committee until 1950 and in 1951 was appointed Natal secretary of the party.

In 1955 he was appointed a senator for Natal - the youngest ever, Gibson recalled.

Three years later took the Durban Point parliamentary seat for the party.

He became UP official spokesperson on defence and transport.

He retired from Parliament just before the 1987 general election, citing personal reasons.

In 1985 he was awarded the Decoration for Meritorious Service - the first serving opposition MP to receive it.

He is the author of "Flares", a collection of war poems written during his military service.

Raw was until his death honorary colonel of 38 Field Workshop Regiment.

He was married to Barbara (born Giles) with whom he had four children.

He also had three children by a previous marriage.

His funeral service will be held in Durban North on Friday. - Sapa