Tshwane - African National Congress veteran and former cabinet minister Zola Skweyiya was an outstanding ambassador of goodwill and a servant of his people, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Saturday.
In his eulogy delivered at Skweyiya's special official funeral in Pretoria, Ramaphosa saluted democratic South Africa's first public service and administration minister as a humble leader, gifted with moral clarity.
"An ambassador of goodwill, a servant of his people, and a courageous son of our soil has departed. When we recall the consummate love, grace, and humility of Zola Skweyiya we are reminded of the immeasurable capacity of human beings for goodness," said Ramaphosa.
"In a world that is riven by conflict and greed we were comforted to have living among us a person like Zola Skweyiya. We were heartened by his moral clarity and by his steadfast commitment to democracy, justice, and peace."
Skweyiya "was a noble man who would never dare sell the birthright of his people; a man who would choose death rather than betray the trust of his people". Although Skweyiya had departed this world, South Africans would continue to draw strength and inspiration from his example.
"As we fold the flag that now covers him, we will commend his spirit to the founding fathers and mothers of our nation and hand over the work of his hand to his family and future generations as a symbol of honour to his service and love for [his] country," Ramaphosa said.
Skweyiya died at the age of 75 on April 11. He was public service and administration minister from 1994 to 1999 and social development minister from 1999 to 2009, before he was appointed South Africa’s high commissioner to the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Ramaphosa said that since the day Skweyiya died, there had been "an outpouring of grief and expressions of admiration from many South Africans and from people across the world".
Skweyiya is survived by his wife, former ambassador Thuthukile Skweyiya, three sons - Vuyo, Khethaukuthula, and Vukani - two daughters - Phila and Mandisa - and 12 grandchildren.
Former president Thabo Mbeki and his wife Zanele were among numerous high profile mourners at the funeral.
African News Agency/ANA