Special funeral for ‘gentle giant’ Skweyiya

2018-04-16 15:16

Zola Skweyiya will have a special official funeral on Saturday, complete with military ceremonial honours and flags being flown at half-mast.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has declared the special official funeral, category 1 (the same category declared for Winnie Madikizela-Mandela), for the former minister of social development and high commissioner to the United Kingdom and Ireland, who died on Wednesday.

Dr Skweyiya served as minister of the public service and administration from 1994 to 1999 and later served as minister of social development before retiring as a member of Parliament in 2009.

Within the same year, he was appointed high commissioner to the United Kingdom and Ireland, a position that acknowledged the long period he had spent in exile during the apartheid era.

Skweyiya has been described as a caring politician, who was passionate about the task the government gave him – to look after the most vulnerable in society who rely on grants.

Read: Zola Skweyiya: An honourable, gentle politician

On his return to South Africa after his high commissioner assignment, he remained an active ANC veteran and an outspoken advocate for the renewal and restoration of the integrity and values of the movement.

In recent years Skweyiya was part of the ANC veterans who were quite critical of Jacob Zuma’s style of leadership and the endemic corruption and wanted him to resign.

On hearing the news of his death, ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe referred to him as the “gentle giant of our struggle”.

“He felt strongly about the resolution of the historical injustice, and [was] an advocate for the policy of affirmative action,” said Mabe.

“We mourn the loss of this gentle giant, whose life was one of service, excellence, and love for his people and movement.”

Ramaphosa has ordered that the national flag be flown at half-mast at flag stations countrywide and at South African diplomatic missions abroad with immediate effect until the evening of April 21.

The details of the official memorial and funeral services will be announced by the Government Communication and Information System.

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January 20 2019