Loyal Skweyiya placed hopes in ANC members despite door being shut to veterans - Mabuza

David Mabuza. (City Press, file)
David Mabuza. (City Press, file)

The spirit of ANC veteran Zola Skweyiya is hopefully receiving reassurance from other departed stalwarts that the ruling party has heard his cry for organisational renewal, Deputy President David Mabuza said on Wednesday.

In a speech prepared for delivery at Skweyiya's memorial service in Pretoria, Mabuza acknowledged the efforts of Skweyiya and others who had bemoaned gatekeeping, disunity and corruption within the party.

Skweyiya died a week ago after a protracted illness, and just days before his 76th birthday.

Those in attendance at the memorial service included his wife Thuthukile, his children and former president Thabo Mbeki.

Mabuza said Skweyiya was loyal but also independent-minded. He was careful in how he expressed himself.

"At the sunset of his life, with such a stand, he lamented that we the leaders of his beloved movement had become hostile," said Mabuza.

ANC 'on an irreversible path of renewal'

"Together with other veterans, a door was shut for him to openly engage on issues of concern at the time. As the leadership, our preoccupation with our own sense of security rendered him and other veterans invisible."

ALSO READ: ANC mourns loss of 'gentle giant of our struggle' Skweyiya

Mabuza said that despite all this, Skweyiya still placed his hopes in the general membership of the ANC.

"As we mourn his passing, we wish to assure his spirit and the entirety of the veterans of the ANC that we regret some of the omissions we have committed in the service of our people. 

"We want to assure his spirit that the organisation he so loved and dedicated his entire adult life to is on an irreversible path of renewal as the true and honest servant of the people."

Skweyiya's spirit, he said, joined those of other leaders of the movement, including Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu, Nelson Mandela, Lilian Ngoyi, Govan Mbeki, Alfred Nzo, Chris Hani and Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.

"We trust they will give him the comradely embrace he might have missed from us, his friends. We hope they find a way of telling him that we heard his cry."

Mabuza paid tribute to Skweyiya who, among other notable contributions to the country, became a student activist at 14, established the ANC's own commission on the Constitution and played a pivotal role in the negotiations for a democratic South Africa.

"He succeeded in serving our nation with distinction because his love for the people was authentic. His enthusiasm for their dreams and aspirations was unsurpassed.

"We have no doubt that as Dr Skweyiya departed this world, he was satisfied [with] the progress we have made in the provision of houses, water, sanitation and electricity to the poor given what we had inherited."

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