Ex-DA federal council chair James Selfe dies after long illness

James Selfe, the former chairperson of the DA Federal Council, has passed away at the age of 68.

The DA confirmed his death, stating that Selfe died “peacefully, surrounded by family and loved ones, following a lengthy battle with illness”.

In a heartfelt statement, DA leader John Steenhuisen extended his sincerest condolences to Selfe’s wife and children, stating: “our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this very difficult time”.

Pivotal figure in contemporary South African political history

Selfe is remembered as a pivotal figure in contemporary South African political history. Steenhuisen said his immense contributions to South African democracy and opposition politics have left a lasting legacy.

He highlighted Selfe’s significant impact on the party and the country’s political landscape, stating that he was one of the first politicians in the post-apartheid era to challenge the dominance of the ANC.

“James was a pioneer in South African opposition politics, working tirelessly to oppose the unfettered power of the ANC. And ensuring that the opposition fulfilled its role as society’s ultimate watchdog. This vital development cannot be understated in a country where democratic accountability is still so worryingly evaded,” he said.

Selfe was celebrated not only for his political acumen but also for his personal warmth and wit.

“We will miss James for his wry, sharp wit, his deep love for his family and his miniature schnauzers. His proud annual proclamation of ‘Dezemba’ at the end of every parliamentary year. For as serious as a politician he could be, James was also a dear and cherished friend. He savored the sweetness of life in a career that can often be exhaustively personally taxing,” Steenhuisen said.

Commitment to the values and principles of the DA

Throughout his career, Selfe demonstrated resilience and a steadfast commitment to the values and principles of the DA. He was recognised for his ability to persevere through the most challenging circumstances. A quality that set an example for many within the party, the DA leader said.

“James Selfe is one of the unsung heroes of South African democracy,” Steenhuisen stated. “His legacy will live on in the corridors of parliament. In the memories made with family, friends, and colleagues alike. Fare thee well, James. Thank you for everything.”

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