ANC veteran Zola Skweyiya passes on

The African National Congress Veterans League (ANCVL) in Bokone Bophirima expressed sadness at the passing of Cde Zola Skeyiwa, an anti-apartheid struggle veteran who served the ANC for just over 60 years since he joined the party in 1956. 

Cde Skweyiya, a former Minister of Social Developoment, passed away on Wednesday, a few days before his 76th birthday. He was a constitutional expert, diplomat and leader in the ANC.
Provincial Secretary of the ANC Veterans League in the province, Martin Sebakwane, described Skweyiya’s passing as a huge loss for the country.
“The ANCVL in Bokone Bophirima is saddened by the passing of Cde Skweyiwa. He was a strong activist who made a huge contribution to the country. We dip our flag for him and send condolences to his family and close friends,” Sebakwane said. 
Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Lindiwe Sisulu, also sent condolences to the Skweyiya family. During the last years of his active career, he was South Africa’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland.
“He crafted the Ethos of Batho Pele. He lived them and insisted that the public service is professional and all public servants serve the people with the same commitments and dedication. He also extended his professionalism and commitment to the diplomatic family when he was appointed High Commissioner to the United Kingdom and Ireland, young people learnt a lot from him”, said Sisulu.
“He has left us with a lot of intellectual inheritance. We were very fortunate to have him in the diplomatic family”, added Sisulu.
Skweyiya became a Member of Parliament (MP) in 1994 and immediately assumed the position of Minister of Public service and Administration. In 1999 he was appointed as Minister of Social Development, a post he held for 10 years until 2009. In the Department of Social Development, he spearheaded the implementation of our social protection system, including the child grants and the formation of the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA). 
He matriculated at Loveday College in 1960 and was an activist since high school and continued while at Fort Hare University. Skweyiya joined the ANC in 1956 and was an active member until he went into exile in 1963 in countries such as Tanzania and Zambia.
The ANC sent him to the German Democratic Republic to study law and in 1978 he obtained an LLB degree from the University of Leipzig. He worked for the ANC in various offices and capacities and was responsible for setting up the ANC office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Between 1982 and 1985 he represented the ANC at the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) – now African Union - before he was recalled to Lusaka to set up the ANC Legal and Constitutional Department there. 
He headed this department until 1990 in Zambia and again until 1994 in Johannesburg after his return to South Africa in 1990. Upon his return, he chaired the ANC Constitution Committee. He served on the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the ANC until 2012.
“Cde Skweyiya played a critical role in the constitutional negotiations, not only in the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (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 contributed to the founding of the Centre for Development Studies and the South African Legal Defence Fund, both at the University of the Western Cape. He felt strongly about the resolution of the historical injustice, and was an advocate for the policy of affirmative action,” said the ANC in a statement this week. 
Skweyiya was an outspoken advocate for the renewal and restoration of the integrity and values of the movement.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) also sent condolences to the Skweyiya family, colleagues and friends. 
“Cde Skweyiya will be remembered as a fearless and straight talking activist, who loved his country and fought relentlessly against the tyranny of white minority rule. He belongs to that generation that was prepared to take head-on the evil apartheid regime and that showed moral courage and commendable defiance even in the face of physical violence and death,” Cosatu said. 
The trade union federation said the people of South Africa owe people like 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”.
Details of the memorial service in honour of Dr Skweyiya will be communicated early next week.