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Zola Sydney Themba Skweyiya

The Order of Luthuli in

Zola Sydney Themba Skweyiya Awarded for:
His excellent contribution to the fight for freedom, equality and just society for all South Africans. He became a voice for the vulnerable through Social Development.
Profile of Zola Sydney Themba Skweyiya

Zola Sydney Themba Skweyiya was born on 14 April 1942 in Simonstown, Cape Town. He went to school in Port Elizabeth and matriculated at the Lovedale High School in Alice in 1960. While at school, he was involved in school boycotts against Bantu Education and he joined the ANC in 1956. He was an active ANC activist at Fort Hare University and mobilised support for Umkhonto we Sizwe until 1962 , when he left for Tanzania.

From Lusaka Skweyiya was sent to the German Democratic Republic to study law. In 1978 he obtained an LLD degree from the University of Leipzig. He worked for the ANC in various offices and capacities and was responsible for setting up the ANC office in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Between 1982 and 1985 he represented the ANC at the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), before he was recalled to Lusaka to set up the ANC Legal and Constitutional Department there. He headed this department until 1990 in Zambia, and again until 1994 in Johannesburg, after his return to South Africa in 1990. On his return, he also chaired the ANC Constitution Committee.

Between 1984 and 1993 he annually represented the ANC at the UN Commission for Human Rights. He contributed to the founding of the Centre for Development Studies and the South African Legal Defence Fund, both at the University of the Western Cape. He became a Member of Parliament in 1994 and immediately assumed the position of Minister of Public Service and Administration. He headed the ANC Civil Service Unit which trained almost all the directors-general appointed in government of the new dispensation. In 1999 he was appointed as Minister of Social Development, a post he held for 10 years until 2009. He was then posted to head the South Africa High Commission office in the United Kingdom, a position he held until he retired from public office in 2013. Skweyiya currently serves as Brand Ambassador for Brand South Africa.