Mr Koos van der Merwe MP, celebrates his 35th birthday as an Member of Parliament, today, Friday 30 November 2012.
Van der Merwe was first elected to Parliament on 30 November 1977, under Prime Minister John Vorster, and is the longest-serving MP in South Africa. He has served under seven Heads of State, is the longest-serving Parliamentary Whip and the longest-serving member on the Judicial Service Commission.
Replying to a question on what he intends to do on this historic day, Koos said he has invited a number of former MPs and ministers to lunch in Pretoria - such as Pik Botha, Stoffel van der Merwe and Ferdi Hartzenberg. Mr FW de Klerk has sent his best wishes, being unable to attend himself. So did many other former colleagues.
Van der Merwe spoke in Parliament last Thursday pointing out that 16 MPs were born after he had first been elected as an MP. He also added that MPs should be disciplined and attend all meetings, be on time and fully prepared.
Van der Merwe has been the Chief Whip of the IFP since 1994, and has served in numerous Parliamentary Committees. He has been a member of numerous Parliamentary delegations visiting overseas countries such as China, Russia, Cuba, New Zealand, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, Ireland, Rome, Burundi, Sudan, European Union, Jakarta, Philippines, and Switzerland. He is a keen traveller and has been abroad more than a hundred times.
Van der Merwe is a lawyer by profession and is finalising a PhD in political science. He has studied French at the Sorbonne and also speaks some Portuguese. He is the first South African MP who spoke in French in Parliament when he conveyed words of thanks to President Sarkozy of France. He has also made a speech in Sotho in Parliament.
Van der Merwe, or just "Koos" as he is affectionately known, says he is ready for the next 35 years!