Hon Deputy Speaker, saying farewell to a colleague is as much an occasion tinged with some sadness and regret as it is a time for reflection. Sue van der Merwe, in many ways, upheld the virtues of what it means to be a Member of Parliament - a person who believes in professionalism, who brings her experience to bear on wisdom and common sense in decision-making, who with her irreverent sense of humour is able to bring light in an environment that so easily descends into a depressing sombreness. The tragic loss of her husband, Tiaan van der Merwe, in 1991, and the recent attack on her at home make it even more unusual that she bears herself with such poise and with such joyful, irrepressible spiritedness.
Sue van der Merwe has never seemed to waver in her loyalty to the ANC, which is not a criticism. It is a loyalty that was put under stress, most seriously when a person she respected greatly - former President Thabo Mbeki - pursued a pseudoscientific HIV/Aids policy that she and others were unable to reverse, a record that tainted his legacy and not hers.
As Deputy Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, the success of her efforts to professionalise our foreign affairs civil service and her persistence in creating a welcoming environment for the diplomatic community here, were admirable and greatly admired by all. The unanswered question, of course, is why in the ANC a human rights-based foreign affairs doctrine championed so consistently by the late Prof Kader Asmal, someone who carried the moral authority of the antiapartheid movement out of Ireland, never saw the light of day, which of course is a question to the Minister and not to her.
In the committee, Sue van der Merwe was a model of a committee member. She was diligent, conscientious, constructive and practically intelligent. At one or two moments when it mattered greatly, she was highly principled. She once stood up to some of her ANC colleagues when someone dared suggest that the committee retain a clause that allowed serving political office bearers to have a stake in the Lotto operator. I am personally sorry that she was not there when I put my case for the Private Member's Bill on protecting indigenous knowledge. I believe that the committee would have benefited greatly from hearing her views.
The DA would like to honour Sue van der Merwe and her contribution to the nation and wishes her well in whatever she chooses to do in the future. Alfred Tennyson once wrote, "May there be no sadness of farewell when one embarks on another journey." Good luck to you! [Applause.]
Hon Deputy Speaker, what a pleasure to say a few words about Sue van der Merwe! She had an illustrious career in politics, and before she entered this House she was known for her very good work. She made a change in this country. I, together with a few Members of Parliament, joined her on the very first parliamentary visit to Cuba in 1996. This was under the leadership of Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde and it was absolutely a lifetime experience. We became very good friends.
The visit to Cuba in 1996 was like going back in time - cigars were cheap, there were many electricity blackouts, the coffee was good and the hospitality was awesome. We had so many conversations over several Mojito drinks, discussing our recent past relationship with Cuba and the future of our then two-year-old democracy.
Sue was probably one of the most elegant MPs ever to serve in this House. With her bright smile and energy for life, it was always a pleasure to be in her company.
I knew her former husband, Tiaan, who died tragically in a motor accident, well, and I also served with both his brothers in the same residence at the University of Stellenbosch. It is good that her two children are in the gallery today.
I was saddened to learn about her resignation, as she still has so much to offer to Parliament, and I hope that she will carry on to make a difference for the betterment of South Africa. Sue loves the wildlife of Africa and I hope that she will devote some of her expertise and time towards the conservation of the elephants and rhinos of Africa.
She also served with me and some other MPs on Parliament's wine forum. Therefore, comparing her with a good wine is maybe appropriate. [Laughter.] When you judge a good wine, you look at the colour, smell it and then taste it. [Laughter.] There would then be the very good aftertaste, and if you put all these together, you can then judge whether the wine will mature well in that bottle. There is no doubt that Sue van der Merwe is a five- star wine and she is maturing well. [Applause.]
Sue, we wish you and your family all the best and many good glasses of wine, many trips to see the big five of Africa. She was a good comrade. Hamba kakuhle. Mooi loop, [Go well.] Sue!
Deputy Speaker, Deputy President, hon Cabinet Ministers and hon members, I could have said to Sue that if I was a wine connoisseur, I would be thinking twice but I am not, so I will leave that to uncle Koornhof.
It is the great law of nature that dictates that we enter and at a later stage we exit. We have no choice. Subsequent to her resignation as a Member of Parliament, Ms Sue van der Merwe retorted in the press, "I remain a member of the ANC and I remain an elected member of the National Executive Council." This is hardly for the comfort of those who were already rubbing their hands with glee, in anticipation of welcoming into their party ranks a new and seasoned politician. [Laughter.] [Applause.] We have lost those who thought you would cross the benches. [Laughter.] In fact, I just heard from Minister Manuel that the Scots are winning.
Before she joined Parliament in 1996, Ms Van der Merwe cut her teeth in the struggle as the co-ordinator for the Black Sash advice office in Cape Town from 1988 to 1991; with the Mont Fleur Scenario Planning Exercise 1991- 1993; as the executive assistant for the Open Society Foundation for SA from 1993 to 1995; and as a member of the board of directors of UMAC, a nongovernmental organisation working in the Western Cape from 1992 to 2002. As a result, she brought into the institution of Parliament a tremendous wealth of experience, first through the parliamentary portfolio committees which she served on, namely: finance, communication, tourism, intelligence and even foreign affairs. She later became a parliamentary councillor to the President from 2001 to 2004. I cannot claim to know the importance of that designation, but I can only reflect on the memoirs of Clark Clifford, who was a legal counsel to the presidents of the US, including President Roosevelt, that the work entails advising, as a council, the President who went through meetings with some of the witty heads of state, the intelligent and even the brutal ones.
She then served as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2004 to 2009. And again, I must say that we had the benefit of insightful briefings as the portfolio committee whenever she came to brief the committee; we felt very enlightened at all points. Thereafter, she served briefly as a member of the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry.
I must say that when Sue served as a counsel to the President, we then started to work closer because at that time, the tradition was that the cluster of Ministers who were responsible for criminal justice were supposed to receive heads of state whenever they came to this country. We found out that Sue was the prime co-ordinator of the cluster in which I served together with the late Minister Steve Tshwete, former Minister Maduna, the late Minister Nhlanhla, Prince Buthelezi, former Minister Lekota and myself. Sue used to co-ordinate that cluster whenever the heads of state visited South Africa.
On behalf of the IFP, we salute your bravery and commend and laud you for your contribution to our democracy. It saddened us that you recently suffered at the hands of the ignorant few. Although we sit on opposite sides of this House, we now join with the rest of our colleagues to offer you our prayers of comfort, love and best wishes. I am sure there are many here who will miss you dearly.
We bid you farewell and wish you every success in your future endeavours. I thank you. Hamba kahle nkosazana. [Go well, madam.] [Applause.]
Hon Speaker, my sincere apologies. My list has Mulder, and I know that I probably broke protocol. However, I heard you calling, and I want to apologise to the House for breaking protocol. I did not know that I was not supposed to walk this way. My apologies.
From the ranks of the ACDP, it is indeed an honour to speak on its behalf about the hon Sue van der Merwe, my colleague in the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry. The hon Van der Merwe has certainly had an illustrious career dating back to the 1980s, when she served as a co-ordinator in the office of the Black Sash. Since then, the hon van der Merwe has held numerous important positions in government, and the one that certainly stands out is her position as Deputy Minister in the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Before her resignation, the hon Van der Merwe served as the Deputy Minister of International Relations and Co-operation until 2010, and also as a committee member on the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry, on which she served with distinction for her political party, the ANC. It was in this committee that I got to know and interact with the hon Van der Merwe. In this committee, I found that her astuteness, intelligence and attention to detail were evident talents she possessed and used to best represent her party.
To Sue we say: May the Lord bless you and keep you; may the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; may the Lord lift up His countenance to you and give you peace; even as your colleagues on my right say "Amen" and agree with me.
The ACDP wishes the hon Sue van der Merwe well in all of her future endeavours. I thank you. [Applause.]
Hon members, wiil you please lower your noise level. I am sure that Ms Van der Merwe wants to hear each and every word that the people are saying.
Deputy Speaker and hon members, the old saying that "there is a time to come and a time to go" has been verified by Sue. Unlike some speakers like the hon Minister in the Presidency, who spoke before, I knew Sue only between 09:00 and 16:00 on working days during parliamentary sittings, therefore I will confine myself to that. [Laughter.]
She was quite meticulous in everything she did. I came to know Sue in 1999 when we served on the Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs and Tourism chaired by Gwen Mahlangu. She came out as quite amiable and had a grasp across environmental issues, on which she exuded passion. As the ANC whip in the committee, she maintained discipline amongst her colleagues and led by example in being punctual.
When she was then elevated to the position of Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, she did not lose touch with the people. She showed a big heart when, after she had resigned - I must emphasise, after she had resigned - she resumed her seat as a backbencher, a lesson yet to be learned by some.
We in the UCDP wish her well in her retirement from active politics. We hope she will invest her energy in family and other community projects as much as she has vowed to do it for her party. The UCDP wishes her to have all the strength, all the way. Thank you. [Applause.]
Agb Speaker, ek het gehardloop. Ek is baie jammer dat ek laat is, maar ek wil baie graag 'n woord of twee oor die agb Sue van der Merwe s. Sy was saam met ons hier sedert 1996. Ek hoor dat lede saam met haar getoer het. Ek het ook die voorreg gehad om saam met haar te toer. Ek het saam met haar op verskillende komitees gedien. Ek dink ons het baie goeie werk gedoen op die komitee oor kommunikasie, waar dit hoofsaaklik oor tegniese sake gegaan het en waar Sue al die jare 'n baie sinvolle bydrae gemaak het om Suid-Afrika 'n beter plek te maak.
Ek word oud, ek word oud. Sue, jy moenie so oud word nie. Daarna, as Adjunkminister, het ek die voorreg gehad om saam met haar te werk en verskeie sake met haar te bespreek waar sy regtig sinvol gehelp het, 'n bydrae gemaak het, en waar ons saam dinge kon aanwend.
Ek het ook die voorreg gehad om vir Tiaan te ken. Ek was altyd ook hoogs bendruk met Tiaan se bydrae in die verlede.
Ek wens haar baie sterkte toe vir die toekoms. Sterkte daar buite. Tans is ons almal hier in 'n verkiesinggees. Ons is in die "lystegees". Ek is nie seker of jy dalk beter af is as ons nie.
Die VF Plus het eerskomende naweek sy Mangaung-konferensie. Ons kies nuwe leiers. Dalk is ek nie hier daarna nie en dan sluit ek dalk daar by jou aan. Baie sterkte vir die toekoms. Baie dankie. [Applous.] (Translation of Afrikaans speech follows.)
[Dr C P MULDER: Hon Speaker, I was running. I am very sorry that I am late, but I would like to say a few words about the hon Sue van der Merwe. She has been here with us since 1996. I have heard that some members have been touring with her. I also had the privilege of touring with her. I served with her on different committees. I believe we delivered very good work on the committee on communications, which was predominantly about technical issues, and where Sue made a very meaningful contribution all these years in order to make South Africa a better place.
I am growing old, I am growing old. Sue, you must not age like this. Thereafter, as Deputy Minister, I had the privilege of working with her and discussing various issues with her where she really helped significantly, made a contribution, and where we would co-operate on certain matters.
I also had the privilege of knowing Tiaan. I was always highly impressed with Tiaan's contribution in the past. I wish her well for the future. Good luck out there. All of us here are currently in election mode. We are in the "lists mode". I am not sure whether you are perhaps better off than us.
The FF Plus will have its Mangaung conference this coming weekend. We are electing new leaders. Perhaps I won't be here after that and then I might join you. Good luck for the future. Thank you very much. [Applause.]]
That concludes the farewell speeches. The presiding officers also wish to take this opportunity to wish Ms Van der Merwe well. The Secretary will read the Second Order. [Applause.]