The Passing of Cde Zola Skweyiya

The Passing of Cde Zola Skweyiya


Beeld/Herman Verwey/Media24


If ever there was a stalwart it was Zola Skweyiya. When Oliver Tambo established the ANC’s Constitutional Committee in 1986, reporting directly to him as President of the organisation, he appointed Professor Jack Simons as its Chair and Dr Zola Skweyiya as its Deputy Chair. Within a few years, Prof Simons stepped aside and Zola Skweyiya became the head of the body that, in the years to follow, was to play a key role in laying the foundation of what was to become the Constitution of South Africa.

Hard-working,  collegial, with a strongly independent and critical mind, he never sought the limelight for himself. Behind a demeanour that could appear stern at times was a person of great generosity with a sharp sense of humour. Like Tambo himself, Skweyiya was a natural democrat. He hated apartheid with a passion, and truly believed in the Freedom Charter declarations that South Africa ‘belongs to all who live in it’, and that the ‘people shall govern’.

A thoughtful, organised and creative intellectual combatant in the Oliver Tambo mould, he fought against injustice, selfishness and abuse of power his whole life. His influence lives on in the Constitution to which he contributed so much. We miss him sorely.


Justice Albie Sachs

Trustee: Oliver & Adelaide Tambo Foundation