Cape Town – ANC Women’s League president Bathabile Dlamini has defended Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu after she was criticised for attacking the country’s constitution and the judiciary.
Sisulu, the daughter of revered anti-apartheid activists Walter and Albertina Sisulu, launched her extraordinary attack on both the judiciary and the constitution in opinion pieces on the Independent Online (IOL) news site in recent days.
The 67-year-old veteran minister derided unnamed senior judges as “mentally colonised Africans” who are “only too happy to lick the spittle of those who falsely claim superiority”.
She also attacked South Africa’s ground-breaking post-apartheid constitution, saying that it had failed to improve the lives of the the majority of black South Africans still living in poverty.
Her remarks, which triggered heated debate, fuelled speculation that Sisulu was planning to run for the leadership of the ruling African National Congress at a party conference in December.
But in an interview with Newzroom Afrika, Dlamini asked why the issues that Sisulu raised were not being considered and discussed.
“Why is comrade Lindiwe being dismissed? Why don’t we want to respond to the questions she’s raising and listen to her views and engage… South Africa is a society in transformation and it would be good for us to listen to South Africans raising their voices,” said Dlamini.
Dlamini expressed concern over those whom she said were attacking Sisulu.
“… What I see is that there are those that are attacking Cde Lindiwe without getting deep into the issues she is raising”.
She continued: “Ordinary South Africans must discuss the issues comrade Lindiwe raised instead of hurling insults. We want people to have a proper debate, and for ordinary citizens to be part of South Africa and understand the constitution.”
Dlamini’s remarks came a few days before President Cyril Ramaphosa hit back against what he called “attacks on the independence and integrity of our judiciary”.
“We must safeguard against any and all efforts to diminish our hard-won democracy,” Ramaphosa wrote in his weekly newsletter on Monday.
Without directly referring to Sisulu’s piece, he also stressed the “need to protect our constitution, our democratic state and the electoral process from anyone who wants to weaken our democracy”.
Sisulu’s opinion piece also drew fire from the acting chief justice Raymond Zondo.
“This is not criticism, it is an insult to …all the African judges who serve this country with distinction, with determination to uphold the constitution,” Zondo told a news conference last week.
Democratic Alliance (DA) leader John Steenhuisen also weighed in, saying that Sisulu’s remarks undermined and cast aspersions on the judiciary and she should, therefore, be ordered to retract and apologise, reported Times Live.
“Even if no formal finding of wrongdoing has been made on Sisulu’s remarks, President Ramaphosa has an obligation to protect public trust in the constitutional integrity of other arms of government,” said Steenhuisen.
Picture: Getty Images
Compiled by Betha Madhomu
Additional reporting by AFP