Helen Susman RIP
One of the most remarkable human beings I ever had the privilege of meeting died last week at the age of 91.
Helen Susman was for many years a lone voice as the only opponent of apartheid in the South African parliament.
She was a formidable and very brave lady who somehow managed to combine the strongest and most courageous attachment to moral principle with a strong pragmatism about what would actually work, and who also combined a wicked sense of humour with great courtesy.
I met her when she visited Britain while the National party was still running South Africa. There was a great deal of controversy at that time about whether Britain should impose sanctions against South Africa: I asked her what she thought about this and, if we were not to impose sanctions, what we should do instead.
Her answer was that we should keep up the moral pressure and keep calling for reform, but that it would not help black people in South Africa if we were to wreck the country's economy.
In recent years Helen Susman was very disappointed by the ANC, particularly the support of Mbekei for Robert Mugabe, and his failure to acknowledge the causes of AIDS. But she said that although she had hoped for better she would never regret working for the end of Apartheid.