Cape Town – Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane on Tuesday praised Helen Suzman for her role in chipping away "the edifice of apartheid South Africa".
Suzman would have turned 100 on Tuesday.
In a statement, Maimane said Suzman "opposed every plank of apartheid’s legislative underpinning".
"Helen was always up for the fight. She used every opportunity to stand for what was right, and to bring international attention to the South African cause," he said.
"She stood for liberal constitutionalism long before it was fashionable to do so, knowing that the philosophy of racial nationalism and reductionism could not be sustained in the long term."
She was a member of Parliament for 36 years.
Suzman, who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize twice, was heralded for raising international awareness of the atrocities of apartheid.
She called Bantustans "doomed for failure."
In 1967, Suzman visited former President Nelson Mandela on Robben Island for the first time.
Years later, Mandela told Suzman: "Your courage, integrity and principled commitment to justice have marked you as one of the outstanding figures in the history of public life in South Africa."
Chief Albert Luthuli also famously called Suzman: "a bright star in a dark chamber".
Suzman died of natural causes on New Year's Day in 2009, at the age of 91.
In celebration of Suzman's 100th birthday, the South African Post Office announced a commemorative stamp in her honour.
Maimane said Suzman's values and her commitment to a non-racial society still drives the DA today.
"Helen Suzman laid the foundations for a truly united, prosperous and non-racial South Africa for all who live in it," he said.
"The DA will continue to build on her legacy, until simple justice, equal opportunity and human rights are afforded to all."
Chief Albert Luthuli's appreciation of Helen Suzman's lone stand in the apartheid Parliament: "a bright star in a dark Chamber"