Who is Zola Skweyiya?

Zola Skweyiya was a former High Commissioner to the UK and Ireland. File picture: Herbert Matimba

Zola Skweyiya was a former High Commissioner to the UK and Ireland. File picture: Herbert Matimba

Published Apr 11, 2018


Cape Town - Zola Skweyiya returned from exile in 1990 and was appointed to direct the Department of Legal and Constitutional Affairs. As well as serving on the board of trustees for the National Rights of Children, he also headed Unesco's Management of Social Transformations.

Skweyiya was instrumental in helping to set up the Centre for Development Studies and the South African Legal Defence Fund at the University of the Western Cape.

He 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. He said Skweyiya had a hand in preparing him (Lesufi) for the public office.

“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 Lesufi.

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


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