Ben Skosana

Babalo Ndenze and Sandiso Phaliso

PARLIAMENT is mourning the sudden death of one of its presiding officers, veteran IFP MP Ben Skosana.

Skosana, a founding member of the IFP, collapsed suddenly on Tuesday while having dinner at a Cape Town restaurant.

“It is with great sadness that I announce the sudden and unexpected passing of the Honourable Mr Ben Skosana,” said IFP parliamentary caucus chairman Velaphi Ndlovu.

He said Skosana served the nation with “dedication, integrity and skill”.

Skosana would have turned 67 on May 7 – the day of the general elections.

IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi said Skosana’s passing was a loss to the IFP, to Parliament and to South Africans.

“It is a loss to me personally, for Mr Skosana was a friend with whom I shared many of my career’s tribulations and victories. We worked side by side for several decades to shape our country on the best democratic principles,” said Buthelezi.

He added that “his wisdom and vast experience have served us well”.

“It will not be easy to bid farewell to this stalwart friend and colleague. It is left us to honour his memory and remember the remarkable body of work he contributed to both the liberation and democratic maturity of South Africa”, he said.

Parliament also issued a statement expressing its shock at his unexpected death. Skosana had been a member of Parliament since the dawn of democracy in 1994, it said.

“Mr Skosana’s sudden passing away yesterday is even more poignant because it comes in the final term of this Parliament and on the eve of its last State of the Nation Address when the country is celebrating its 20th year of freedom,” said Parliament in a statement.

ANC chief whip Stone Sizani said: “Despite his very advanced age, he still demonstrated exemplary commitment to his work, put in extra hours and never rested until work was done.

“Even when his sad passing came, it found him busy at work doing what he loved and lived for: serving the people of South Africa.”

DA chief whip Watty Watson said Skosana had “loyally” served Parliament for 20 years and his party for even longer.

“Parliament has been enriched by his contribution and he will be missed. Our deepest condolences to his family, colleagues and friends during this difficult time,” said Watson.

A trained teacher, Skosana was born on May 7, 1947, in Sharpeville in the then Transvaal. He was a member of the IFP since its formation in 1975.

In 1998 he was appointed minister of correctional services.

More recently, he served as the house chairperson in the National Assembly, responsible for members’ interests.

He leaves his wife, three children and a younger brother.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.