File picture: Herbert Matimba/Independent Media

Johannesburg - Another ANC stalwart Zola Skweyiya died as the nation was preparing for the memorial of service of the late struggle icon Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. 

The news of Skweyiya’s death broke on Wednesday morning, a day after the country held a 25th commemoration of ANC-SACP leader Chris Hani's assassination in Ekurhuleni.  

Skweyiya,75, died three days before his birthday said the ANC national spokesman Pule Mabe in a statement.

“The ANC once again dips its banner in mourning, as it was informed of the passing of ANC veteran, constitutional expert, diplomat and leader comrade Zola Skweyiya after a protracted illness. On behalf of the National Executive Committee of the ANC and the entire movement membership of the movement, we pass our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Thuthukile, and the entire family for their loss,” read the statement.

Skweyiya was the first minister of Public Service and Administration from 1994 to 1999. He was later moved to the department of social services where he served as a minister for a decade until 2009. In the same year he was appointed High Commissioner to the UK and Ireland where he advanced the interests of South Africa.

When he eventually returned to South Africa, he remained active within ANC structures and in 2016 he added his voice among ANC veterans who were calling for the resignation of former president Jacob Zuma.

Speaking on Radio 702 on Wednesday morning, Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi and Energy Minister Jeff Radebe said Skweyiya had played a big role in the creation of the ANC’s policies alongside the late Oliver Tambo.

Panyaza said Skweyiya had a hand in coming up with government policies directed at caring for the poor and the elderly. 

“His death cuts too deep especially after the death of Mam’ Winnie last week and the commemoration of Chris Hani’s death yesterday. It’s just too deep,” said Panyaza.

Skweyiya was born in Simon’s Town and schooled in Port Elizabeth and later in Cape Town. He matriculated at Lovedale, Alice, before he studied at Fort Hare University where he became involved in student politics.

The Star