Ex minister and struggle icon minister Zola Skweyiya


Zodidi Mhlana

JOHANNESBURG- Tributes have been pouring in following the death of ANC veteran Zola Skweyiya.

Skweyiya died at the Kloof hospital in Pretoria on Wednesday at the age of 75 after a long illness.

Since his passing was announced, South Africans have been sending condolences to his family and friends.

ANC spokesperson, Pule Mabe on Wednesday said that he was a key player in the negotiations that took place before the country’s democracy.

“Cde Zola played a critical role in the constitutional negotiations, not only in the CODESA process and committees but also in engaging with ANC structures, the legal fraternity and other Alliance and civil society formations on the process. From 1984-1993, he also represented the ANC at the UN Commission for Human Rights. He felt strongly about the resolution of the historical injustice and an advocate for the policy of affirmative action. 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,” he said.

Skweyiya served as a minister under both former presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki’s administrations. He was appointed as Public Service and Administration from 1994 to 1999. When Mbeki came into power in 2009, he was appointed Social Development minister. He was also part of the ruling party’s National Executive Committee.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) also sent condolences to the Skweyiya family.

“The people of South Africa owe people like Cde Zola Skweyiya a lot of gratitude for fighting the apartheid dictatorship without flinching. He has left an indelible mark as an activist, a diplomat and crusader for social justice. We salute him as the working class for his contribution in championing the cause of freedom. We lower our banners in honour of this courageous struggle veteran. We remain inspired by his bravery and unflinching dedication to the cause of our liberation,” Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said.

Skweyiya was born in Cape Town and passed his matric at Loveday College. He went into exile in the early 1960’s. He received an LLD degree from the University of Leipzig.