Memorial service for late minister

Former cabinet member Zola Skweyiya.

A memorial service for former cabinet minister, Zola Skweyiya, will be held at Luyolo Community Centre in Gugulethu, today, Thursday April 19 at 5pm.

Mr Skweyiya died at a Pretoria hospital last Wednesday April 11 at the age of 75.

Brigitte Mabandla, former Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, will be the keynote speaker at the memorial service hosted by the ANC Western Cape.

Mr Skweyiya was born in Simon’s Town on April 14 1942.

His political activity began while completing high school in Alice at Lovedale College. After high school he attended Fort Hare University and became active within the ANC. When the ANC declared the beginning of the armed struggle in 1961, he became part of its armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK). He later left South Africa in 1963, joining the ANC in exile in Tanzania and Zambia.

Mr Skweyiya furthered his education in East Germany from 1969 where he studied law and obtained a LLD (doctorate in law) degree.

He became the ANC’s representative at the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) until 1985 before being recalled to Lusaka to set up the ANC’s legal and constitutional department. In 1986, he was deputy chair of the ANC’s constitutional committee with members such as Jack Simons, Kader Asmal and Albie Sachs. This committee would develop the ANC constitutional guidelines that would eventually be used after the ANC’s unbanning in 1990.

On his return from exile in 1990, he directed the ANC’s department of legal and constitutional affairs.

Mr Skweyiya was first elected to Parliament in 1994, and he joined the Cabinet as Minister of Public Service and Administration in the same year. He was moved to the position of Minister of Social Development under President Thabo Mbeki in 1999. After 15 years in the Cabinet and Parliament, his retirement from both was announced on May 6 2009, following the April 2009 general election.

He was appointed by former president Jacob Zuma as the South African High Commissioner to the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland in September 2009.

Mr Skweyiya is survived by his second wife, Thuthukile and two stepchildren, and a son from his first marriage.

For more details about the memorial service, call 021 425 9410 or 021 425 9416.