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Former DA MP Dene Smuts has died

The party has sent its condolences to Smuts’s family.

Dene Smuts

JOHANNESBURG - The Democratic Alliance (DA) has announced that it has received with sadness the news of the sudden passing of Dene Smuts.

Dene served in Parliament for 20 years, from 1989 to 2009. Prior to her political career, she was a journalist, editor and award winning author.

During the constitutional negotiations of the early 1990s, Dene served on the then Democratic Party's negotiating team, and contributed significantly to the writing of the Bill of Rights and in defining a proper process for judicial appointments.

"She established herself as being unwaveringly committed to the founding principles of the Constitution, and always fought for them in Parliament," the party stated.

In the span of her career, she served as the DA's Shadow Minister of Home Affairs, Communications, and later in Justice and Constitutional Development.

"Whether it was in her work on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission legislation, on a modern communications policy, on working for the independence of the legal profession or in her heroic work on the Protection of State Information Bill, Dene always worked incredibly hard and with total devotion to the Constitution and the principles it enshrines."

The party says that she was also the first female MP to serve as a whip in Parliament, and served as a mentor to many younger MPs and staff.

"She would never accept laziness or fuzzy thinking from colleagues, and did not hesitate to scold them if necessary. She was a fearsome debater in caucus and in the House, and many a government Minister withered under her trenchant questioning.

"Dene Smuts will be remembered as a truly great parliamentarian, who stood unswervingly for a cause far bigger than her own personal advancement - an enduring set of principles and beliefs. Her service to a democratic South Africa has been profound, and we mourn her loss. We convey our deepest condolences to her family."

The Congress of the People (Cope) has also responded to the news of Smuts's passing.

"She was tall and imposing and equally tall in principle. No wonder she made such a great MP and was treated with so much respect.

"Two years ago she wrote, 'Now it is 13th April and I depart, having completed five Parliaments. The question is not the one people keep asking me - why I am leaving or how I can leave - but how I stayed for nearly a quarter of a century when the work so consumes a person's life. I have stayed because it has always been possible to get much and sometimes almost all of what I argued, and where all else failed, to effect damage control. It would have been nice to end on achieving my own two Private Member's Constitutional Amendments on the JSC and the NPA, but the arguments are out and have developed traction'."

Cope spokesperson Dennis Bloem says, "She is no longer with us but her contribution to the Bill of Rights will live on. As deeply committed constitutionalists, Cope acknowledges her role and contribution in the making of our Constitution."

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