Former Education Minister Kader Asmal has passed away at the age of 76.
The ANC stalwart suffered a heart attack on Tuesday evening and passed away at around 4pm on Wednesday afternoon.
Asmal was appointed Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry in May 1994 and held the position until 1999.
He was then appointed Education Minister after the 1999 elections and served in this position until 2004.
His wife Louise Parkinson said the end came quickly.
She said he had been in hospital for the past week, but not for a
Close friend and former colleague Ronnie Kasrils described Asmal as a heroic figure.
was such an outstanding South African, a patriot through and through.
He will be so sadly missed," Kasrils said. "He was unique, he was brilliant, a wonderful
minister, a brilliant MP, a marvellous heroic figure...”
Meanwhile, Cosatu Western Cape Secretary and leader of the ANC in the Cape Town City Council Tony Ehrenreich said, “It’s been terribly sad to hear about the passing of Kader Asmal... He was indeed a giant of our movement - the person on who’s shoulders we stand and saw a brighter and better new South Africa.”
Western Cape premier Helen Zille said Asmal was highly intelligent and committed to serving South Africans.
“He was a very fine legal brain and did some very good things and I think over time realised that education policy wasn’t working in the way this was intended to work and was open enough to agree that there had to be substantial change,” she said.
Last week Asmal warned that the proposed
protection of information bill was fatally flawed and called on all
South Africans to reject it.
ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe said the quality of public discourse was poorer now that Asmal has passed on.
“He continued to be active in terms of throwing ideas and contesting ideas,” he said. “There is nothing that serves society better than contestation of ideas.”
(Edited by Dennis Georgiannis)