Ben Skosana was born in Sharpeville on 7 May 1947. He qualified as a teacher from the Wilberforce Training College, and later pursued further studies at St Francis Xavier University in Canada, where he received the diploma in Social Development. He also studied for a BSc and MSc in International Affairs with the Pacific Western University in the US.
Skosana has been a member of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) since its formation in 1975. He has a deep interest in rural development and rural social problems. To follow his interests he joined Zululand Churches and Welfare Association (HELWEL). HELWEL is a development agency focusing on rural development. From 1981 until 1986 he became the Director of HELWEL. He resigned when he became a permanent representative of the IFP in London. After serving the IFP in London, he returned to South Africa and became a committee member of the Reconstruction and Development Programme, an African National Congress government initiative to alleviate poverty in South Africa. In 1998 he succeeded his IFP counterpart, Sipho Mzimela, as Minister of Correctional Services, a post he held until he was replaced by Ngconde Balfour 28 April 2004.