Special sitting to commemorate Gavin Lewis MPL and MEC Nkosiphendule Kolisile

Jack Bloom MPL

DA Leader, Gauteng Legislature

Speech by Jack Bloom MPL on 30 July 2013 at special sitting to commemorate Gavin Lewis MPL and MEC Nkosiphendule Kolisile

Today is a very sad day for this Legislature as we commemorate two very different members who came to like and respect each other.

My association with Gavin Lewis goes back to the 20 years that we served together on the Council of the SA Institute of Race Relations.

Gavin was a true liberal and a true patriot.

He was deeply intelligent and thoughtful.

He obtained his BA, MA, and PhD all with distinction.

While he built a reputation in the field of economics, his doctorate was actually on the history of “Coloured” politics in South Africa.

He wrote a book based on his thesis called Between the Wire and the Wall: A History of “Coloured” Politics in South Africa.

He studied law in South Africa and Canada, and lectured in history at the University of Cape Town.

He was also a consultant to government on the RDP, and for many years gave incisive analysis on radio.

Gavin was not always an easy person to get on with.

But beneath it all he had a genuine heart.

I think that he was actually a very vulnerable person who was hurt by many things.

His sharp sense of humour was one way that he could defend himself during his school years which were not altogether happy.

Gavin was always politically aware, but I was the one who introduced him to party politics.

He was frustrated with the political system, but he was planning to stand for parliament at the next elections.

Parliament and our country have now been robbed of a great mind.

I did not know MEC Nkosiphendule Kolisile well.

But I did know that Gavin Lewis held him in high regard.

I was really quite surprised when Gavin recommended that we support the Economic Affairs budget this year for the first time ever.

Gavin wanted to make a difference, and he wanted to be fair. He wanted to give MEC Kolisile a chance to prove himself.

It was a strange relationship this, between the liberal and the communist.

But they both saw the humanity in each other.

This is a very precious legacy that they have left for this House.

Constant adversary politics is not healthy for a democracy.

Debates have to be real debates where people actually listen to each other and adjust their positions based on what they hear.

A good idea from the opposition should not be rejected just because of where it comes from.

And a worthy opposition should not always oppose in a kneejerk way anything that government does.

MEC Kolisile was prepared to listen, and so he had the genuine respect of all members and all parties in this House.

It is an absolute wrench to see their seats today covered in black.

We don’t know why they were taken away from us, both so suddenly without an opportunity to say a proper goodbye.

We will miss them sorely, but let us learn from the relationship that they established across party lines.

And let us remember that they were not only members of this Legislature, but fathers and husbands, and much else besides.

To their families and friends I offer my deepest condolences.

But they should know that something of value remains from their contribution to this House.