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.]