“Helen Suzman’s participation in opposing the complete absence of democracy in South Africa under Nationalist Party rule must be applauded” – Nelson Mandela (1993).

I would like to refer to the history of the DA because it is easy to make assumptions when ignorance is evident.  The Democratic Alliance traces back to the anti-apartheid movement of the 1970s and 1980s, during which it was known as the Progressive Party and the Progressive Federal Party.

Helen Suzman, an anti-apartheid activist, was the sole representative of the Progressive Party in Parliament and opposed oppression. She upheld liberal policies in the apartheid-era legislature and spoke out against apartheid laws. She became known for her public criticism of the governing National Party’s policies of apartheid at a time when this was unusual among white people.  Suzman fought against detention without trial, job reservation on the grounds of colour, racially separated amenities and argued against the banning of the Communist Party. In 1975, she tackled gender discrimination, especially against black women.

Helen Zille also fought against apartheid laws. Didn’t she break the story on Steve Biko’s death?  During the 1980s she was involved in the Black Sash movement, a non-violent women’s resistance organisation.

We are all here because South Africans fought together. Yes, the ANC played a part in the liberation struggle and we praise those that fought in the struggle, but never leave out the freedom fighters outside the ANC like Steve Biko, Helen Suzman and Joe Seremane. If it wasn’t for them and the South African people we wouldn’t be walking side by side today.

Anyone can be in politics if they are there for the right reasons. Whether it’s wanting change or contributing to a better South Africa or in this case, Wits a place where everyone is equal and has the same opportunities. For those that think otherwise; maybe THEY shouldn’t be in politics because if you were in the political arena you would still be here!?

It would be beneficial for the uneducated to do a history lesson before they make fools of themselves.  It’s a shame such comments come from students at Wits, maybe they should ask for a refund because intelligent individuals at a prestigious institution should know better than to lie and it’s best to get your facts straight.

Nazley Sharif

Daso chairperson.