Since the death of former minister Dr Zola Skweyiya was announced, scores have come out in unison, describing Skweyiwa as a dedicated public servant. He died last week at the age of 75.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has accorded Skweyiya a special official funeral. He will be laid to rest on Saturday at Pretoria East Cemetery. The funeral service will be held at Christian Revival Church.
The funeral procession will travel down Solomon Mahlangu Drive and turn left in Garstfonein street towards the Pretoria East cemetery. All intersections along the route will be affected and Tshwane Metro Police will be deployed to monitor and redirect traffic.
According to the program the funeral procession will leave the church at 10am in the morning.
Skweyiya served as public service and administration minister from 1994 to 1999 under former president Nelson Mandela, and then as Social Development Minister from 1999 to 2009 during former president Mbeki’s administration.
He was also credited with the establishment of social security agency SASSA.
Social welfare in South Africa can be traced back as early as 1909. And in keep with the times, these services were only reserved for whites.
Although the law allowed black people to access pensions by the late 1940s, only half of those that qualified received their pensions.
These were some of the legacies inherited by Nelson Mandela’s government in 1994. Many changes were made to the structure and payment of social grants.
In an effort to change these social security inequalities – various committees were set up. In 2002, the Taylor Commission recommended the setting up of SASSA.
Minister Skweyiya was instrumental in the establishment of the social security agency. It was under SASSA that social grants recipients increased from 4,9 million to over 17 million currently.
But as the system grew it experienced teething problems with some citizens exploiting the system. Skweyiwa collaborated with the Special Investigative Unit to investigative the abuse of the system.
Ghost recipients and non qualifying people were rooted out. Some were arrested, while others were compelled to pay back the money.
It was this zero tolerance to corruption that earned Skweyiwa respect amongst this sector.
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Fraser-Moleketi paid tribute to Skweyiya
The newly-appointed Chancellor of the Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth, Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi has paid tribute to former minister of Social Development, Zola Skweyiya.
She says Skweyiya was an intellectual and a strong constitutional lawyer. She says he was her predecessor in the portfolio of Public Service and Administration and had made a significant contribution to democracy.
“He put in place the policy that underpinned the existence of a united united public service. Secondly he contributed and played a role in the amalgamation of the public services that were fragmented according to race, geography etc. And then of course I remember him very clearly as the champion of Bhatopele: citizens first. And coming into that portfolio, I was able to ably stand on the shoulders of a giant who had come before me.”
Skweyiya, a good leader – Mabandla
Former Justice Minister Bridgitte Mabandla has described the later Zola Skweyiya as a hard working man and good leader. Mabandla worked with Skweyiya at the community law centre at the University of the Western Cape in the 1990’s.
She delivered the key note address at a memorial service held at the UWC Sports hall. Mabandla says the best way to honour Skweyiya is to ensure a better life for all the people of this country especially the poor.
“We must deliver, we must do what we have to do to improve the quality of life of our people. Those in strategic points of power, like ministers, mayors, ministers of religion, people in society who are leaders must all the time make things better for our people.”