News / South Africa

Virginia Keppler
2 minute read
12 Apr 2018
7:38 pm

Ramaphosa announces state funeral for Zola Skweyiya

Virginia Keppler

The president visited the late struggle stalwart's family on Thursday to pay tribute to the former minister.

President Cyril Ramaphosa and Deputy President David Mabuza are seen speaking to media outside the Skweyiya family's residence during a visit after the passing of Dr Zola Skweyiya to pay their respects, 12 April 2018, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Thursday that the late Doctor Zola Skweyiya will, like Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, receive a state funeral.

Ramaphosa said it was not only because Skweyiya had in the past been a minister in two successive administrations, but also because of his stature in the movement, the struggle and the contribution he made in the liberation and development of our people.

“Boetie Zola Skweyiya, go well,” Ramaphosa said.

He was supported by Deputy President David Mabuza and ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, who visited the Skweyiya family on Thursday night and prayed and shared a meal with his family.

“The passing of Zola Skweyiya is a great loss to our movement, poor people and our country because he is one of those who served our movement, country and people with great distinction,” Ramaphosa said.

“He had to leave the country many years ago to go into exile and, while he was, there he contributed to the struggle so that we could be free.”

He said Skweyiya later became one of the key ministers in government and, as minister of social development, laid the foundation and basis for to make the progress the country has made in creating a safety net for the people and in “particular the rol-lout of the grant system that we know today cares for 17 million beneficiaries [Editor’s note: there are in fact 17 million grants paid to 10 million beneficiaries]. He showed deep compassion and deep care for the poor in the country.”

Ramaphosa said his contribution would live for many years after his passing.

“This is a very sad movement for us in the ANC in that in a short space of time we are losing many leaders who were like the elders in our movement, who cared very deeply about the organisation, country, nation and our people. And soon after the passing of Mam Winnie Madikizela Mandala, we now have Doctor Skweyiya passing. Both of them served in social development, and so we are losing a memory bank of people who knew very well how our people lived and how to care for our people.

“Doctor Skweyiya was always deeply moved by the poverty that our people found themselves in and he, like Mama Winnie, cared so much to alleviate poverty.”

Skweyiya’s brother, Temba Skweyiya, said the family was humbled and grateful that the ANC and government has come to share in their pain.

“This day has been a great day for us as a family and we feel strengthened by the massage of the president,” he said.

The 75-year old Skweyiya passed away on Wednesday morning while in hospital after a short illness. He was due to turn 76 within days.