Zola Skweyiya a humble, gentle giant

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Reflecting on his father, Dr Zola Skweyiya’s life, Vuyo Skweyiya said his mom was the centre of his father’s life.

“We have heard all the glowing tributes but what we would like to do is speak about daddy at home.

“uMam Thuthu was the centre of dad’s life. Mam Thuthu gave all her happiness to be achieved by daddy and for that we thank you,” said the son of the late former Cabinet Minister, Vuyo of his parent’s relationship. 

Skweyiya, who passed away on the 11 April 2018, was laid to rest on Saturday in a Special Official Funeral as declared by President Cyril Ramaphosa shortly after his passing.

He had an illustrious CV as a public servant having served as the Minister of Public Service and Administration and Social Development. His funeral service was held in Pretoria at the Christian Revival Church.

Scores of high profile mourners such as President Ramaphosa, Former President Thabo Mbeki, Minister Aaron Motsoaledi and many other government ministers attended the funeral to pay their final respects.

While mourners, spoke glowingly of Skweyiya, his son said at home he was stubborn and could only be mellowed by his wife.

“He wasn’t always easy to get along with, at home he would get easily agitated and stubborn, in those moments it was uMama who could mellow him,” said Vuyo.

Skweyiya was married to former Ambassador Thuthukile Skweyiya.

According to their son, Mam Thuthukile never left her husband’s hospital bed during his sickness.

“To uMama, I saw the pain you carried when daddy was in hospital and it is a pain you will carry for a long time to come,” said Vuyo. 

Proving true to her son’s words, Mam Thuthukile spoke of the loving relationship to her husband.

“Zola you were my gentle giant, my soulmate. Thank you for valuing me as not only your wife but your equal,” said Mam Thuthukile.

The leader and public servant

Having known Dr Zola Skweyiya for 60 years, former Member of Parliament, Pallo Jordan, described him as a humble and gentle giant dedicated to service as seen in his efforts to see to it that social grants are delivered.

“One of his legacies is his intervention as Social Development Minister where he put in place social grants,” said Jordan.

Ambassador Sandile Nogxina, who was mentored by Skweyiya and served as his special adviser, described him as the epitome of ethical leadership.

“He was the epitome of ethical leadership. I found in him a leader and a comrade. He was outspoken and principled,” said Ambassador Nogxina. 

Embody Batho Pele principles in honour of Skweyiya

Skweyiya was renowned for his work of establishing the first post-apartheid Public Service Administration Department by knitting together a fragmented public service that was dismembered by apartheid.

In carrying forward Skweyiya’s baton forward, Professor Stan Sangweni called on government and public servants to embody the Batho Pele principles.

“Comrade Skweyiya left us the principles of Batho Pele, which is how to serve our people and this has to start with our Ministers, then filter to empower our Director-Generals,” said Professor Sangweni. - SAnews.gov.za

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