Saturday, April 21, 2018

Pretoria: The ANC Stalwart and former Minister of Public Service and Administration  and Social Development, Dr Zola Skweyiya, was laid to rest in Pretoria, on Saturday.

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.

The late Zola Skweyiya has been described by President Cyril Ramaphosa as a selfless leader who worked for the betterment of his people.

“In all tasks that he was given, he made a difference. When former President Nelson Mandela entrusted Zola Skweyiya with the formidable challenge of transforming the oppressive apartheid machinery into a developmental state that would serve all South Africans, he undertook his responsibility with purpose,” said President Ramaohosa.

The President was speaking at the former Cabinet Minister’s funeral which took place on Saturday at the Christian Revival Church in Pretoria. In his honour, the President declared a Special Official Funeral following Skweyiya’s passing.

Former President Thabo Mbeki and his wife Zanele Mbeki, Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, Premier David Makhura, government officials and political party leaders were among those that were present at the funeral.

According to the President, at the heart of Skweyiya’s work was the commitment to serve his people and improve their lives.

“We were heartened by his moral clarity and by his steadfast commitment to democracy, justice and peace. Here was a noble man who would never dare sell the birth right of his people, a man who would choose death rather than betray the trust of his people.

“Here was a man who shared the dreams of the dispossessed, the marginalised and the suffering,” said President Ramaphosa.

Speaking on his work ethic, the man who was the first post-apartheid Minister of the Department of Public Service and Administration and later the Social Development Minister, was said to serve with distinction.

“Those who were fortunate to work with him in exile and in government reminded us of Zola Skweyiya’s work ethic, his collegiality and passion to develop people who worked with him.

In Skweyiya’s honour, the President said government would intensify the struggle to complete the restoration of the dignity of South Africans.

“We will intensify our struggle to return the land to the people and build an inclusive economy that benefits all South Africans. As he often reminded us, the aim of the national liberation struggle is the democratisation of the country and the redistribution of its wealth. It is a struggle to eradicate the privileges of the few and to entrench human rights as the basis of our democratic dispensation,” said the President.

Remembered as the architect of the progressive social assistance programme, President Ramaphosa said it was government’s responsibility to ensure that the public service retains the character that Skweyiya envisioned and embraces the values that he espoused.

“Thanks to his work, more children have survived, more children have thrived and more children have been able to attend school. He achieved all of this without fanfare, without spectacle,” said President Ramaphosa.

Mahikeng protests:

In light of the Mahikeng protests that erupted in the North West this week over issues of governance and corruption, President Ramaphosa said in memory of Skweyiya the rule of law must maintained no matter the grievances.

“We can be certain that Zola Skweyiya would have been concerned about the violent protests that have seized the North West in the last few days. In the memory of our distinguished stalwart, let us unite and resist those who wish to delay our march to economic freedom for all our people.

“To throw away the rule of law and to disregard the Constitution because of our differences is to fall into the trap of the enemies of change,” said the President.

Skweyiya was laid to rest at the Pretoria East Cemetery. –

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