ANC Veteran and former Minister of Social Development, Zola Skweyiya, has died, just three days before his 76th birthday. After becoming a Member of Parliament (MP) in 1994, Skweyiya was appointed as Minister of Public Service and Administration and then again appointed as the Minister of Social Development in 1999, where he served for ten years and is remembered for implementing the Child Support Grant. In 2009, following his tenure as head of Social Development, he was appointed as South Africa’s high commissioner to the United Kingdom and Ireland. In 2014, he received a silver Order of Luthuli for his excellent contribution in the fight for freedom, equality and just society for all South Africans. He became a voice for the vulnerable through Social Development.
Meanwhile, messages of condolences are pouring in from civil society, including various politicians and organisations who have expressed their sadness with the passing of Skweyiya, His death comes a day after 25th commemoration of ANC-SACP leader Chris Hani’s assassination and during a time when South Africa is still mourning former South African diplomat, George Nene, who died on Friday as wel as Winnie Madikizela Mandela, who died last week Monday.
“Our thoughts‚ as colleagues and comrades‚ go out to the family and friends of Dr Skweyiya who served our country with great passion and distinction during his time in cabinet and the diplomatic service. Dr Skweyiya’s endearing engagement and his contribution to our society — especially his role as the first minister to lead the public service in a democratic SA — will be greatly missed and honoured‚” President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a statement issued. The Presidency also stated that details of his memorial events would be communicated in due course. The ANC’s spokesperson, Pule Mabe, also issued a statement within this regard. “On behalf of the national executive committee of the ANC and the entire membership of the movement‚ we pass our heartfelt condolences to his wife‚ Thuthukile Skweyiya, and the entire family for their loss. The movement mourns with them as we celebrate the life of this gentle giant of our struggle‚” Mabe said.
Skweyiya was born in Simon’s Town, Eastern Cape and was schooled in Port Elizabeth and later Cape Town. He matriculated at Lovedale, Alice, before he studied at Fort Hare University where he became involved in student politics in 1956. He died at the Kloof Hospital in Pretoria.