Fellow Politicians Mourns the Passing of Former DA Stalwart James Selfe

Fellow Politicians Mourns the Passing of Former DA Stalwart James Selfe

  • James Selfe, a revered member of the Democratic Alliance (DA) and a key figure in South African politics, has passed away after a lengthy illness
  • Known for his instrumental role in shaping the DA and combating corruption, Selfe leaves a lasting legacy in South African democracy
  • The DA and various political leaders have expressed their deepest condolences to his family

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James Selfe is celebrated
James Selfe's political career, spanning nearly five decades, was marked by significant contributions to South African democracy. Images: Twitter/ @ParliamentofRSA/ HERMAN VERWEY/AFP via Getty Images
Source: Twitter

It's a sad day in politics as politicians across the country mourn the passing of the DA stalwart and former MP James Selfe.

Selfe died on Tuesday afternoon, aged 68, after battling illness for an extended period.

In a statement, the DA said he served in the party for almost two decades before stepping down in 2019 due to ill health

Various political parties and Parliament mourned his passing, sending condolences to his family and colleagues.

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Selfe's political career

DA leader John Steenhuisen said that Selfe's political career, spanning nearly five decades, was marked by significant contributions to South African democracy.

See the post below:

In the late 1970s and 1980s, he worked as a researcher for the DA's predecessor, the Progressive Federal Party, and fought against apartheid laws.

His dedication continued as he rose, becoming the party’s communications director and later an executive director.

In 1994, Selfe was elected to the National Council of Provinces in South Africa's first democratic Parliament, where he played a pivotal role in the Constitutional Assembly that drafted the nation's democratic Constitution.

"Throughout his nearly 30-year tenure in parliament, Selfe served on numerous committees, most notably the Committee on Justice and Correctional Services, where his work ensured fairness and accountability within the judicial system.

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"Selfe's legacy is perhaps most profoundly felt within the DA itself. Serving as the party's first Chairperson of the Federal Council, he was instrumental in shaping the DA into South Africa's formidable official opposition.
"His efforts in refining the party's systems and processes and in strengthening its Federal Constitution established the DA as a respected liberal party known for its commitment to rules and fairness.”

A pioneer in South African opposition politics

A pioneer in "lawfare," Selfe led several landmark legal battles that set precedents for public accountability in post-apartheid South Africa.

"His leadership in exposing corruption through cases such as the Zuma spy tapes, Nkandla, and state contracts with Bosasa underscored his dedication to a transparent and accountable government.

Selfe's contributions extended beyond policy and legal battles. He was a mentor and an example to many within the DA, demonstrating resilience and unwavering commitment to democratic principles.

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His legacy is celebrated by colleagues and political adversaries, who recognize his role in solidifying South Africa's democracy.

Other politicians celebrated his life

Prominent figures across the political spectrum have expressed their condolences and admiration for Selfe.

ANC national spokesperson Hlengiwe Bhengu-Motsiri acknowledged his role in the evolution of the democratic state, while Action SA leader Herman Mashaba lauded Selfe’s genuine desire to build a better South Africa.

Build One South Africa leader Mmusi Maimane praised his contributions to the legal landscape, and Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Groenewald recognized him as an asset to Parliament.

RISE Mzansi leader Songezo Zibi also sent his condolences and said Selfe served our country with dedication as an MP and as part of the Constitutional Assembly that crafted the Constitution.

See the post below:

"He exemplified how leaders and public representatives in an open democracy should behave - caring, respectful, diligent and deeply committed to the Constitution.

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"He was also willing to work across the party divide in the interest of South Africa and its people. We salute a profoundly good man, a true patriot and a constitutionalist."

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde and IFP national spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa also paid tribute, highlighting Selfe's unwavering commitment to liberal democracy and his significant impact on the political landscape.

Fans also mourned his passing

Some fans also reacted to the news of his passing and celebrated his life.

@vlok_andre said:

"A career to be proud of. My condolences."

@Cal843111883 noted:

"DA can really be proud of its leaders - they truly are capable and visionary leaders of South Africa,"

Vytjie Mentor, Jessie Duarte and other SA politicians who died in 2022

Breifly News previously reported that 2022 was a year filled with loss and sadness for South Africans.

Several politicians and struggle icons were laid to rest, but their memory and legacy live on despite their demise.

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Jessie Duarte, Mpho Moerane, Vytjie Mentor, Lorraine Botha, Geoff Doidge, Mxolisi Sokatsha, Rita Ndzanga, Anastasia Motaung and Maggie Tlou are among those who died.

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Reitumetse Makwea avatar

Reitumetse Makwea (Editor) Reitumetse Makwea is a Current Affairs journalist at Briefly News. She has a National diploma, Advanced diploma and Post-graduate diploma in Journalism from the Tshwane University of Technology. She first worked as a student journalist and freelancer for Caxton's Record Noweto and later joined The Citizen News, where she worked for a little over 3 years covering politics, environmental news, business, education, and health. Reitumetse joined Briefly News in 2024. Email: reitumetse.makwea@briefly.co.za

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