SA poorer without the likes of Zola Skweyiya

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

South Africa is poorer with the loss of the likes of former Minister Dr Zola Skweyiya, whose love for serving people was authentic, Deputy President David Mabuza said on Wednesday.

“Throughout his life, he performed extraordinary feats because he was driven by a deep sense of social justice, care and love of his people,” said the Deputy President.

Deputy President Mabuza was speaking at government’s official memorial service for the late Minister and High Commissioner, who passed away on 11 April after a period of hospitalisation.

The Deputy President was one of many speakers who spoke of the 75-year-old’s humility and humbleness.

“He was humble yet steadfast in his principles,” he said, adding that Dr Skweyiya was the embodiment of servant leadership and a shining light for the destitute and marginalised.

He described Skweyiya’s tenure as a Cabinet Minister as one where he “was truly pioneering”.

Dr Skweyiya served as Minister of Public Service and Administration in democratic South Africa’s first Cabinet in 1994. He also served as Minister of Social Development between 1999 and 2009.

This address at the Tshwane Events Centre, Deputy President Mabuza said the many strides that South Africa has made in the protection of basic human rights are partly due to Dr Skweyiya’s contribution.
“He succeeded in serving our nation with distinction because his love for the people was authentic. His enthusiasm for their dreams and aspirations was unsurpassed. As a living personification of fairness and justice, his demeanour exemplified a special sensitivity to the needs of the most vulnerable among us,” said the Deputy President.

While serving as Minister of Social Development, the department developed one of the world’s largest social assistance programmes. Skweyiya’s work led to the extension of the Child Support Grant to cover children up to the age of 18. He also established the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) to administer and manage a singular national social assistance programme to cater for the poor and vulnerable.

The Deputy President said Dr Skweyiya championed the cause for a developmental state as Minister of Public Service and Administration. The Deputy President credited the struggle stalwart with helping to restructure the fragmented public service into an instrument of transformation.

“We had inherited a public service that was skewed in favour of the white minority. That early transformation period also means Dr Skweyiya had to build a united, non-racial, efficient, ethical public service to replace a public service whose composition and content had characterised the corruption of the apartheid state,” he said.

Skweyiya’s grandchildren described him as someone who loved children and was always there for them. One of them recalled that she learnt of her grandpa’s passing in the media while on the way to the hospital to see him.

Skweyiya’s sister described him as someone who loved his family and his wife Thuthukile.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has declared a Special Official Funeral Category 1 for Skweyiya, who will be interred on Saturday. -

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