Public Service and Administration Minister Ayanda Dlodlo has extended her condolences to the family of Dr Zola Skweyiya.
Skweyiya, a liberation veteran and prominent figure in the South African political and governance landscape, passed away on Wednesday morning at the age of 75. He passed away in hospital after a short illness.
Skweyiya served as Minister of Public Service and Administration in former President Nelson Mandela’s Cabinet and then as Minister of Social Development during Thabo Mbeki’s administration.
“On behalf of myself and the entire public service, we would like to send our heartfelt condolences to the family of Dr Skweyiya, his organisation, the ANC and the citizens of South Africa for whom Dr Skweyiya selflessly laid his life.
“Dr Skweyiya is the founding Minister of the Department of Public Service and Administration. Not only did he establish the department, he also was the executive authority that presided over the merging of over 10 public administrations into a single public administration in the early stages of our new democracy,” Minister Dlodlo said.
Through the White Paper on the Transformation of the Public Service (1995), the State managed to ensure that a single public service agenda was conceptualised and put into real practice. This led to the adoption in 1997 of the White Paper on Transforming Public Service Delivery, a process that gave birth to the Batho Pele principles which define the service ethics of the democratic state.
“The guiding principle of public service transformation and reform is service to the people. Government’s most important task is to build a public service capable of meeting the challenge of improving the delivery of public services to the citizens of South Africa.
“The previously disadvantaged deserve access to decent public services, which is no longer a privilege to be enjoyed by a few. It is now the rightful expectation of all citizens, especially those previously disadvantaged,” Dr Skweyiya said, launching the White Paper on Transforming Public Service Delivery in October 1997.
The stability in the formative years of the new democratic government was as a result of the contribution Dr Skweyiya made in managing the transition to the modern public service and administration.
“We therefore salute his steadfast role and contribution as a pioneer of our democratic state and the brains behind the philosophy of putting people first in service delivery.”
As Minister of Social Development, he was the architect of the establishment of the South African Social Security Agency, which was to bring consistency and stability in the payment of social grants in South Africa.
Through his sterling efforts in this regard, Dr Skweyiya restored the dignity of the beneficiaries of the social security system, the majority of whom are poor people, especially in the former homelands and rural areas.
In his own party, the ANC, Dr Skweyiya played a pivotal role, especially in preparing the ANC to govern the democratic state.
As a leader and head of the Constitutional Development Department in the ANC, Dr Skweyiya played an important role towards negotiations for a democratic future and the ultimate adoption of the new Constitution in 1996.
Having spent all of his adult life in the liberation movement both within and beyond South African borders, Dr Skweyiya leaves a proud legacy of selfless contribution to the struggle for democracy and freedom.
“We will miss his intellectual prowess, dedication to the cause of the poor people and his indelible print in the transformation of our society,” Minister Ayanda said. – SAnews.gov.za