Death of Helen Suzman

Veteran anti apartheid campaigner Helen Suzman who died on New Year’s Day aged 91 was buried in a private Jewish ceremony today in Johannesburg. The mourners included President Kgalema Motlanther and the last leader of the apartheid regime, F W de Klerk.
Born in 1917 to Jewish immigrants from Lithuania, she married Dr Moses Suzman, who became one of South Africa’s leading physicians. Five years after graduating from Witwatersrand University, she joined the staff as a lecturer in economic development. She was elected a United Party MP for Houghton in 1948 but later left to form the Progressive Party in 1959 and was their only MP to keep her seat in 1961. She was a constant critic of the apartheid regime. The Progressive Party proposed a multi-racial society but did not insist on immediate universal suffrage, instead envisaging the right to vote for those who had had seven years of schooling, or four years of schooling and two years of employment. That was extremely radical for the times.
She was effectively the only opposition in parliament to many of the South African regime’s policies and was loathed by the South African PM, PW Botha who once referred to her as a “vicious little cat”. For her part, she said that if he were a woman, “he would arrive in parliament on a broomstick”.
In later years she was also a critic of post apartheid South Africa saying in July 2008: “I’m extremely disappointed at what’s happening, and I have to put most of the blame on Thabo Mbeki (the former president) for two particularly obnoxious things he’s done – his denialist attitude to Aids, and secondly Zimbabwe and the dreadful backing of Robert Mugabe.
But there are other things too – crime, corruption, the failure to deliver on the promise of a better of life for all, the unemployment and the appalling conditions under which millions are still living.”

  • LURIG

    The South Africa that Helen Suzman fought for is now in serious danger of going the same way as Zimbabwe. The corruption in the country is endemic and the ANC is fighting an internal civil war that could end in violence. Thabo Mbeki’s leadership was a failure as so many South Africans still live in poverty and the country’s refusal to show leadership against Mugabe was a disgrace. The entire continent of Africa is still run on tribal grounds and the the West’s version of ‘democracy’ is doomed to failure. We have poured billions into Africa in the last 30 years but many of the problems still remain and this CANNOT be solely put down to Western imperialism and colonial rule. India, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand were also subjected to colonial rule but have moved on, Africa does not seem capable. Why is this? There has been enough international aid poured in over the last 30 years to stabalise ALL African countries but the tribal culture and corrupt mindset still dictates and comes to the fore. Africa must sort out Africa and the West should of course provide aid but it must start taking responsibility for itself.

  • Harry Flashman

    “…the problems still remain and this CANNOT be solely put down to Western imperialism and colonial rule. India, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand were also subjected to colonial rule but have moved on, Africa does not seem capable.”

    I remember reading somewhere that upon independence Ghana (I think it was Ghana) had the same GDP as New Zealand. It is shocking to see how an entire continent can let itself slide into primitivism so quickly.

    I have no time for the racists of South Africa or Smith’s Rhodesia but in the 1970’s when they were told to accept majority African rule they merely had to point at Amin and Bokassa among others and dreadful though it is to say it, they kinda had a point.

  • Greenflag

    Harry Flasheart ,

    ‘I remember reading somewhere that upon independence Ghana (I think it was Ghana) had the same GDP as New Zealand. ‘

    Not New Zealand it was actually Taiwan . About 10 years ago or so Taiwan’s GDP per capita was approx 20 times that of Ghana . The main difference was the former (Taiwan)had 30 years of political stability and ‘certainty’ post 1960 whereas Ghana after a couple of years of post independence ‘joie de liberte ‘ deteriorated in a public sector driven corrupt polity mess .

    ‘It is shocking to see how an entire continent can let itself slide into primitivism so quickly.’

    Indeed . They’ve still a long way to go to match the slide into ‘primitivism’ which europeans indulged in 1914 through 1995 among which the outstanding examples of non primitivism
    included WW1 , WW2 , Soviet Gulags , Nazi extermination camps and Balkan atrocities without number not forgetting the eminently ‘civilised ‘ on off mini wars in Northern Ireland 1920 through 1998 ? Only when Africans kill other Africans is it ‘primitive ‘?

    When Israelis or Americans kill hundreds of women and children it’s civilisation ?

    Ever dawn on you Harry why Europeans went to Africa ? Was it to bring the ‘true faith ‘ or to exploit the continent for it’s ‘natural ‘ resources . IIRC the British were very clear that South African gold was theirs and not the property of the Africans or for that matter the Boers . To ensure the ‘natives ‘ and afrikaans speaking people got the message the Brits ‘even ‘ invented concentration camps – a first for ‘civilised ‘ europeans 🙁

    Botswana is in Africa and boasts over 40 years of peaceful progress since it’s independence . It’s GDP per capita is approx 6,000 US dollars per person . It has ha economic growth rates of 10% and although it had only one third the GDP per capita of Zimbabwe in 1980 it now has 30 times the Zimbabwe figure and has catered for almost one million Zimbabwe ‘refugees ‘on a temporary basis

    ‘.I have no time for the racists of South Africa or Smith’s Rhodesia but in the 1970’s when they were told to accept majority African rule they merely had to point at Amin and Bokassa among others and dreadful though it is to say it, they kinda had a point’

    The one point that too many forgot was that if you are living in another tribe or culture’s country as a racial , ethnic or religious minority it’s probably not a good investment for the future of your grandchildren to tell the ‘indigenes ‘ that only you know how to ‘rule ‘ and only your tribe should have access to land , education and a 20 times higher standard of living than the ‘natives . But that was and is ‘colonialism ‘ for you .

  • Harry Flashman

    Fair enough, Greenie (here’s a hint GF drop the puerile name changing, I’ve mentioned it to you before, it just makes you look like a twat), so it’s all whitey’s fault.

    That’s why Singapore and Hong Kong are such dreadful hellholes I suppose.

  • runciter

    India, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand were also subjected to colonial rule but have moved on, Africa does not seem capable. Why is this?

    Africa is not one country, but many, and they do not all have the same problems.

    Also, just because overt colonialism ended years ago that does not mean that Africa is free from external interference. Western economic power and its support for corrupt regimes is still a major problem in that continent.

  • Harry Flashman

    Yup, once again, blame whitey, he made Idi Amin eat his wife and it is he who infected a massive proportion of the population of Sub Saharan Africa with AIDS.

    Whitey, what a bastard eh?

  • runciter

    Yup, once again, blame whitey

    Being the tax-paying citizen of a Western power, I naturally have more interest in the abuses of that power than I do in the wrongdoings of Africans.

    And while speculating about the intrinsic flaws of African culture may be entertaining to some, and provide a useful distraction for others, I don’t personally find it very interesting.

  • Greenflag

    Sir Harold Flashalot,

    ‘ so it’s all whitey’s fault.’

    I did’nt say that . We know from our ‘semi’ colonial ‘ history that the ‘whitey’s are not immune from slaughtering those who are of the same ‘colour ‘ as themselves as well as those of a different skin hue .The other ‘races’ are just as capable as ‘whitey’, of slaughtering each other . Indeed if you read Chinese, Japanese, history or your middle eastern history there is no exemption to the general finding that if human beings only behaved like the rest of the mammalian kingdom there would be several billion more people on the planet today than there are.

    Not a good idea to generalise a whole continent . I mean you’d be upset if somebody ‘generalised ‘ Northern Ireland as being a larger West Belfast or London as Tower Hamlets ?

    Once again we have wandered from the thread topic which was to honour and remember Helen Suzman who was a life long opponent of the apartheid regime.
    RIP to a great and brave woman .

    I would’nt give up on South Africa just yet . Success is nowhere guaranteed and along with many of the poorer countries around the world RSA will be among the first to feel the pinch of tough days ahead . But then that was and is always the way no matter your skin colour or politics or wherever you live on the planet.

    ‘To them that hath shall be given and to them that hath not even that which they haven’t got will be taken from them . ‘

    As Mr Bernard Madeoff with 50 billion dollars of investors money remains under ‘comfortable ‘ house arrest at his New York mansion while the FBI and SEC try to unravel the biggest ponzi scheme in financial history who could doubt that there is law for the ‘rich ‘ and another one for the poor 🙁

    If there were justice Madoff would be hanging by his heels from a lampost a la Mussolini in 1945 not watching TV from the comfort of his armchair in luxurious surroundings :(.