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Department mourns the passing of Zola Skweyiya


The Department of Military Veterans is mourning the loss of yet another Umkhonto we Sizwe military veteran Zola Skweyiya, who died in Pretoria on Wednesday morning. Mr Skweyiya’s death came after a long illness, and just days before his 76th birthday on Saturday, April 14.

Born Zola Sidney Themba Skweyiya on April 14 1942 in Simon’s Town‚ he went to school in Port Elizabeth and Retreat in Cape Town‚ but finally matriculated from the Lovedale School in Alice in 1960.

Mr Skweyiya became an active ANC student activist at Fort Hare University and mobilized support for Umkhonto we Sizwe until going into exile in Tanzania in 1963 to join UMkhonto weSizwe and underwent military training in Odessa Union of Socialist Soviet Russia.

Upon his return he was later stationed in Kongwa, Tanzania where he was in responsible of camp news updating the military veterans about the news from home and around the world. He fought together with the late Chris Hani during the Wanki Sipolilo campaign in 1967 in the then Rhodesia with the ZIPRA forces.

In 1978‚ the ANC deployed him to Germany Democratic Republic (GDR) to study law at the University of Leipzig where he obtained a LLD degree. He was deployed as the first Chief Representative of the ANC and assuming responsibility for setting up the ANC office in Addis Ababa‚ Ethiopia in 1981.

He was later recalled to set up the ANC legal and constitutional department in Lusaka, which he headed until 1990 in Zambia and until 1994 in Johannesburg.

On his return home, he chaired the ANC constitution committee and served on the NEC until 2012.

He served as the first Minister of Public service and Administration under President Nelson Mandela from 1994 – 1999 and again as the Minister of Social Development in 1999 – 2009 under President Thabo Mbeki. He was later appointed as a High Commissioner to the United Kingdom from 2009 – 2014.

Skweyiya played a critical role in the country’s constitutional negotiations‚ not only in the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (Codesa) process and committees‚ but also in engaging with ANC structures‚ the legal fraternity and other alliance and civil society formations on the process.

The community of military veterans have lost a comrade whose life have sustained many military veterans both during their time in exile as well as upon returning home.

Department pays tribute to him for his unrelenting contribution to the struggle against Apartheid.

 For more information

Media enquiries: Ms Lebogang Mothapa 076 865 7188

Department Spokesperson: Ms Phumeza Dzuguda 076 510 7430

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