Hon Speaker, it is indeed a great honour, as a last duty in this House, to take part in these farewell speeches. I think it is my eleventh farewell speech, considering that in some years we have two farewells. However, this is, indeed, a last farewell and not just a goodbye, as most of the other farewells have been.
This year marks my 50th year in active politics ... [Interjections.] ... so it is about time for me to bow out gracefully. Of these 50 years, I spent 14 years in local government and, since 1994, as a Member of Parliament, initially representing the National Party for five years and, for the past 10 years, as a very proud member of the DA.
During those many years as a representative and as an activist, my path crossed those of thousands, who are obviously too numerous to mention in person. They included not only many important and high-placed people, but also thousands who sought no compensation, no recognition or glory, but who steadfastly worked for a better society and a truly democratic political dispensation. It is them that I wish to applaud today, because, even though it is a proverb based on communist beliefs, I believe it is true that it is not the hero, nor the personality, but the people who are the moving force of history.
I do, however, also wish to acknowledge that in my time here in Parliament, especially these last past years in the National Assembly, many individuals have made lasting impressions on me and certainly played a role in the way in which I traversed the rough and sometimes slippery roads of the political landscape. I salute all those individuals, but in particular I wish to pay tribute to the hon M J Mahlangu, Chairperson of the NCOP, with whom I worked for many years and, of course, to you, hon Speaker, for your impartiality, wise leadership and your wisdom in considering matters that were brought to your attention. I thank you for that, I wish you well and, as so many other speakers have said, I think you should carry on to be President one day.
I also wish to thank your support staff, the other leaders and particularly the staff in both Houses. The support staff sometimes have the most thankless jobs, but they never let us down. I thank them sincerely. [Interjections.] Cheers! I have always wanted to say "Cheers!" at the podium and now I have had the chance.
In the past few weeks, we have had the unfortunate incidents where my party has had to show their protest by walking out in reference to events that had taken place. Please do not take that as disregard for this House, but as an action of our right to a democratic protest. That, however, does not take away from us and, particularly from me, the reverence with which we regard this august House, its leadership and particularly those who sit in the Chair. I thank you, hon Speaker, in particular.
This is not only my farewell speech. Quite a number of my colleagues are also retiring and I would like for them to join me in this farewell speech. I am referring to the hon Ian Davidson, who left earlier because of the impact of the terrible capping of long-service members in respect of their pensions. I also refer to the hon Dene Smuts, who has contributed immensely in this House. [Applause.] Yes, you may applaud her. [Applause.] I also refer to my great friend and colleague, the hon Stuart Farrow ... [Applause.] Clap at the end, you're using up my minutes!
I also refer to my dear friend, Donald Lee, with whom I have had many, many years of interaction. [Applause.] Unfortunately, I haven't got the time to go into details, but I did tell my colleagues the other day that there was a time when I was the leader of the back bench and he was my Chief Whip. I didn't think I would come back to be a real Chief Whip.
I also refer to the hon Pierre Rabie and Marius Swart, who have already said their farewells, and to our great friend and hard worker in the community - nobody has ever worked like her, to my knowledge - Helen Lamoela ... [Applause.] ... as well as to Butch Steyn, the doyen of housing, to Marti Wenger, who has done so much, not only for her home town as the mayor there, but also in this Parliament, to Manie van Dyk, to my friend Donald Smiles, to Patty Duncan, George Boinamo, Deetlefs du Toit, Dr Ena van Schalkwyk and Dr Lourie Bosman. I have asked some of those who haven't said goodbye yet to share a message, which I can share with you, and I do so with pleasure. Stuart Farrow, at the end of his 15 years of collegiality, as he calls it, has asked me to thank in particular Jeremy Cronin, Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Transport before becoming Deputy Minister, with whom he had a good rapport and who had always been willing to listen to his differing viewpoints.
I shall have to shorten some of these messages, unfortunately, colleagues, because time is running out. He also wishes to thank the current Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Tourism, Donald Gumede. He says that with chairpersons like those, who are always prepared to hear an alternate voice, it gives one hope for the future of our multiparty democracy. [Applause.]
The very same Dene Smuts, who departs after 20 long years of devoted service in this Parliament ... [Interjections.] I am sorry, it is 24 years - oh, she was somewhere else for four years; I didn't know. I have only been here for 20 years. She has asked me to say that it is no fault of hers that she is so annoyed and furious today, because the committee reports on her very important private member's constitutional amendments Bill have been kept below the line for more than a month now. She is furious and totally disappointed about that. However, she says that parliamentary friendships forged in spite of, or during our fights, outlast everything and she is actually very, very fond of the ANC Justice MPs. She said that friendship is sometimes forged in fury. [Interjections.]
Pierre Rabie has said his goodbyes, but he also asked me to add that it is important for him to say that he departs not as an enemy, but as a friend of everybody. Helen Lamoela has had long and distinguished service outside Parliament and has been here for the past 10 years, first in the NCOP and now here. She has added her words of thanks. I am sorry, the time is running out. Marti Wenger has added her message. It will be captured in the Hansard, I am sure. So have Donald Smiles and Patty Duncan.
Dr Ena van Schalkwyk het ook haar woorde hierby gevoeg. [Dr Ena van Schalkwyk also added her words to this.]
For myself, I wish to thank my own party and colleagues most sincerely for their collegiality, friendship and support.
Die uitsonderlike ondersteuning tydens my afwesigheid die afgelope twee weke tydens my vrou se ernstige siekte het weer bewys dat ons inderdaad 'n familie is wat vir mekaar omgee. [The exceptional support during my absence the past two weeks due to my wife's serious illness proved once more that we are indeed a family who cares about one another.]
I particularly wish to thank the parliamentary leader, Lindiwe Mazibuko, who is absent because she has been quite ill. She had a very serious operation, but we thank the Lord that she is progressing very well.
I particularly want to thank the chairperson of our party, nationally, and also the chair of our caucus, Dr Wilmot James, for his guidance and his help; and also Sandy Kalyan, my Deputy Chief Whip, and all the hardworking Whips. I thank all the colleagues for their collegiality. [Applause.]
I want to end by saying I have an admission to make. I don't have a good story to tell ... [Laughter.] ... because we, in the DA, don't tell stories. We stick to the facts! I thank you. [Laughter.] [Applause.]