Tributes to ‘committed and selfless patriot’ Ben Skosana after sudden death

2014-02-13 00:00

IFP stalwart and former correctional services minister Ben Skosana died at a restaurant in Cape Town on Tuesday.

Skosana (67) was enjoying dinner with a close friend, Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi, when he collapsed.

Known as Baba Skosana, he was born in Sharpeville on May 7, 1947.

He qualified as a teacher at Wilberforce Training College and later pursued his studies at St Francis Xavier University in Canada, where he attained a diploma in social development.

Skosana also held a bachelor of science and masters in international affairs from the Pacific Western University in the U.S.

As an IFP member since its formation in 1975, he served as a director of the rural development agency, Zululand Churches and Welfare Association between 1981 and 1986.

After resigning from the agency, Skosana became the IFP’s permanent representative in London.

Upon his return to the country, he became a MP in 1994 and served on the rural and development programme portfolio committee.

In 1998, he was appointed as Correctional Services minister and a year later re-appointed to the same position, which he held until 2004.

Until his death he was the National Assembly house chairperson.

IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi said Skosana served the nation with dedication, integrity and skill.

“His contribution in the field of international relations and co-operation, as well as his leadership as minister of correctional services, will be remembered in years to come as a model of exemplary service,” Buthelezi said.

He described him as a friend and a colleague, saying his death was a loss to the IFP, Parliament and the country.

“It is a loss to me personally, for Mr Skosana was a friend with whom I shared many of my career’s tribulations and victories. We worked side by side for several decades to shape our country on the best democratic principles,” Buthelezi said.

IFP national chairperson Blessed Gwala, who first met Skosana in the 1970s in Melmoth, KwaZulu-Natal, while working for the rural development agency, described him as very intelligent.

“In each meeting he always made an input,” he said.

IFP parliamentary caucus chairperson Velaphi Ndlovu said the country, the IFP and Parliament have lost a great mind, an experienced politician, a humble servant of the people and a true patriot.

“His vast reservoir of political knowledge, his diplomatic demeanour and wonderful sense of humour will be sorely missed by our caucus and parliamentary staff,” Ndlovu said.

ANC chief whip Stone Sizani said the ruling party learned with great shock, disbelief and sadness of the sudden death of Skhosana.

Sizani described Skosana as an experienced and astute politician, a diligent and dedicated servant, and a committed and selfless patriot.

“It was such qualities that endeared him to the ANC, which found in him a capable compatriot worthy of an invitation to serve the people’s cause for the transformation of South Africa,” he said, referring to his appointment to serve on the cabinet.

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