South Africa

ANC’s Zola Skweyiya ‘spearheaded the implementation of our social protection system’

By Suné Payne 11 April 2018

Veteran ANC activist and former social development minister Zola Skweyiya, who died on Wednesday, will be remembered as the minister who created and implemented the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa). By SUNÉ PAYNE.

Skweyiya died on Wednesday morning in Tshwane after a long illness, according to a statement released by the ANC. Skweyiya was due to celebrate his 76th birthday on 14 April.

Skweyiya had been a member of the former liberation party since 1956. From 1994, he joined Nelson Mandela’s Cabinet in the new SA as Minister of Public Service. He also served under the presidencies of Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe between 1999 and 2009, as minister of social development.

According to a statement by the ANC, Skweyiya “spearheaded the implementation of our social protection system, including the child grants and the formation of the South African Social Security Agency”.

Sassa has recently been embroiled in a lengthy court battle over the payments of social grants.

United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa, said “the almost 18–million beneficiaries of this (social grants) system owe their sustenance to him”.

Posting on Facebook, Holomisa described Skweyiya as a “thinker and a man given to great pause”.

Following the national elections in 2009 when Jacob Zuma was elected president, Skweyiya was appointed as High Commissioner of South Africa to the United Kingdom and Ireland.

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe praised Skweyiya as a “gentle giant” whose life was dedicated to service, excellence, and love for his people and the movement.

Skweyiya was an ANC NEC member until 2012. According to EWN, he was one of 101 stalwarts and apartheid activists who called for the resignation of former president Jacob Zuma in 2016.

President Cyril Ramaphosa also issued a statement on Wednesday saying: “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 South Africa, will be greatly missed and honoured.”

Skweyiya’s death was announced on the morning of a memorial in Soweto for fellow ANC veteran, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, who will be buried on Saturday.

Funeral arrangements for Skweyiya were still due to be announced. DM

Photo: Zola Skweyiya by Wikimedia Commons

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