Scores of mourners are expected to attend the memorial service of late African National Congress (ANC) stalwart Dr Zola Skweyiya at the Tshwane Events Centre in Pretoria on Wednesday.
Skweyiya died last week at the age of 75.
He served in the cabinet of late former president Nelson Mandela and former president Thabo Mbeki’s administration.
He and was later appointed South Africa’s high commissioner to the UK and Ireland.
Veteran government communicator Mbulelo Musi worked with Skweyiya while he was a government minister and has this to say:
“His mantra was that there should be no child in South Africa who goes to bed without a meal and he didn’t just say it, he lived it. Under his tenure, no less than six million people got social assistance from the state, precisely because he felt that democracy must have a meaning by ensuring that the poor enjoy it. I think the poorest of the poor are poorer without him. He was an epitome of excellence, ethical conduct, an epitome of integrity and a man who did not flinch in fighting for the rights of those who are voiceless.”
Amongst his key achievements in the Department of Public Service and Administration, Skweyiya developed the Batho Pele Principles which are a framework to make public service work for the people.
Professor Stan Sangweni, who served as commissioner for the Public Service Commission under Skweyiya, remembers the ANC stalwart as someone who accelerated service delivery.
“I interpret Dr Skweyiya’s perception as someone who wanted service delivery to be experienced from various departments, be it Agriculture, Health or Public Transport; those services must be experienced and indeed that is what the Constitution requires. Batho Pele was the vision of Dr Skeyiya, meaning people first. People first in what? People first when you consider service delivery, not for the minister or the president.”