SA Minister vs President showdown spills into ANC


THE political stand-off between SA President Cyril Ramaphosa and Lindiwe Sisulu, the Tourism Minister, has spilled into the ANC, where heated discussions were held, with some demanding action against the minister.

IN an unprecedented move this week, Sisulu indirectly called Ramaphosa, her boss, a liar and denied that she had apologised to him for insulting the country’s black judges.

Sisulu, in a statement issued soon after the SA Presidency made public an announcement in which the minister is said to have apologised after being admonished, said she stood by her statement in which she criticised the constitution as well as the judges.

The Presidency in turn issued their own statement, saying the highest office in land stood by its announcement and had nothing to add.

The stand-off is Ramaphosa’s biggest test and he is expected to either act harshly to retain authority in his cabinet and government or lose credibility ahead of the elective conference of the ANC.

The presidency’s statement capped a dramatic night which started with the statement which was supposed to be a joint statement reflecting the outcome of the meeting between Sisulu and Ramaphosa.

According to the statement, Sisulu had apologised after being admonished by her boss. 

Ramaphosa summoned Sisulu to a meeting after she strongly criticised the constitution and SA’s black judges in a column that elicited a fierce national debate, with many calling on the president to fire her. 

Sisulu’s remarks have been linked to a push from sections of the governing ANC for her to stand as a party presidential candidate, in a direct challenge to Ramaphosa.

In a statement, the SA presidency said Ramaphosa admonished Sisulu, specifically about her attack on the judiciary when she said: “Today, in the high echelons of our judicial system are those mentally colonised Africans, who have settled with the worldview and mindset of those who have dispossessed their ancestors.

“They are only too happy to lick the spittle of those who falsely claim superiority. The lack of confidence that permeates their rulings against their own speaks very loudly, while others, secure in their agenda, clap behind closed doors.”

The Presidency said Sisulu conceded that her words were inappropriate.

It said Sisulu had retracted this statement and affirmed her support for the judiciary.

Sisulu said: “I accept that my column has levelled against the judiciary and African judges in particular unsubstantiated, gratuitous and deeply hurtful comments.

“I retract unequivocally my hurtful comments. I recognise that many women and men judges past and present have served their country in the judiciary with dedication and patriotism and some have made sterling sacrifices in the fight against apartheid and colonialism. 

“I apologise for and regret the hurt I have caused the judiciary.”

Sisulu confirmed the meeting with Ramaphosa but denied that she had apologized.

In a statement, Sisulu said: “ have just been informed of a media alert issued by the Presidency that apparently claims that I, Lindiwe N. Sisulu, retracted my original expression. 

“I wish to categorically disown this statement in its entirety as a misrepresentation of the said meeting I had with the president. The president and  I met on Wednesday at 9 pm at his house. In such a meeting, he shared his challenge with one aspect of the article on the judges. The president proposed an intermediary that would focus on the one line about the judges to resolve that. I awaited such to be communicated which would do nothing to the entire article. 

“Under no circumstances did I commit to any retraction or apology since I stand by what I penned. The content of the president’s statement in its current form is unfortunate as it is not what we agreed on. In this regard, I wish to distance myself from such. I will in the next 24 hours issue a full statement.”

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