AFRICAN NATIONAL CONGRESS veteran Zola Skweyiya has died‚ just days before his birthday.
The news broke on Wednesday morning‚ as South Africans prepare to mourn another ANC struggle leader‚ Winnie Madikizela-Mandela‚ at the official memorial service in Soweto.
It also comes a day after the 25th commemoration of ANC-SACP leader Chris Hani’s assissination.
Skweyiya’s life was devoted to the party he joined in 1956‚ notably serving as Minister of Social Development (1999-2009) and Minister of Public Service and Administration (1994-1999).
Born Zola Sidney Themba Skweyiya on 14 April 1942 in Simon’s Town‚ he went to school in Port Elizabeth and Retreat in Cape Town‚ but finally matriculated from the Lovedale School in Alice in 1960‚ according to Sabinet Law.
He was an active ANC activist at Fort Hare University and mobilized support for Umkhonto we Sizwe until going into exile in Tanzania. Skweyiya obtained an LLD 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)‚ 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.
On his return‚ he also chaired the ANC Constitution Committee‚ said Sabinet Law.
Between 1984 and 1993 he annually 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 became a member of Parliament in 1994‚ whereafter he held the two ministerial portfolios.
He was 75.