DA mourns the passing of Dene Smuts – James Selfe

She was a great parliamentarian and fender of Constitution, says party

DA mourns the passing of Dene Smuts, a great parliamentarian and defender of the Constitution

22 April 2016

The Democratic Alliance 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 DP’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. 

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. 

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. 

Issued by James Selfe, Chairperson of the DA's Federal Executive, 22 April 2016