Mcebo Dlamini | Why Lindiwe Sisulu is correct on transformation

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Her opinion clearly ruffled the feathers of those who are comfortable with the status quo; it made those who believe their word is final tremble inside their green gowns. Photo: Gallo Images/Frennie Shivambu
Her opinion clearly ruffled the feathers of those who are comfortable with the status quo; it made those who believe their word is final tremble inside their green gowns. Photo: Gallo Images/Frennie Shivambu


We prayed for justice, equality and freedom, but that prayer was never answered – not by the judiciary, the executive or the legislature. This is evident to everyone.

Look at the townships, the homeless, the exploited and the ones who are killed for asking for better wages.

One does not have to look far to see that South Africa is a country in ruin – and we must not be afraid to point that out, regardless of the positions we hold. In fact, the more influential our positions, the louder our voices should be.

It was for this reason that I was excited by Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu’s opinion piece on the derelict state of our country.

Her opinion clearly ruffled the feathers of those who are comfortable with the status quo; it made those who believe their word is final tremble inside their green gowns.

It is not news that the majority of South Africans (black people) are not active participants in the economy of the country.

There have been studies and research conducted that demonstrate how black people are systematically excluded from accessing and playing a part in the economy.

The land question has been spoken about so much that it has become trite. Paramount as it may be, the repeated failure to address it has almost rendered it meaningless.

Sisulu’s piece did not beat about the bush, but stated clearly that there are people responsible for maintaining this sickeningly unequal situation in our country.

No doubt government (executive, judiciary and legislature) has the power to address the economic and land crisis in this country. Why has it not done so?

There are no ambiguities here. The South African judicial system, as Sisulu suggested, is nothing but a rip-off of Western ones. Everything from the attire of judges and counsel to the lenses used to interpret the law has clearly been plagiarised from the West.

There has been no attempt to introduce an African way of approaching justice. If an African perspective is taken, it is always in passing.

Judges will mention ubuntu simply to give their judgments a semblance of Africanness, but it goes no further than that.

READ: Mondli Makhanya | Is Cyril afraid of rogue Lindiwe?

Similarly, our legislators will mention the importance of land, but nothing in their drafting of legislation corroborates that importance. Executives will use the words ‘Africa’ and ‘black child’ to mobilise support and votes, but then they return to their cosy suburbs and strategise ways to protect the wealth of their white organisations.

An African ideological grounding appreciates that to us black people, land is life. It is much more than property. It signifies our being in the world. Without land, we cease to exist. We are locked in an ontological dilemma.

If government (which includes the judiciary) understands this, why has it not collectively created the means to ensure that land is redistributed?

If there is indeed any Africanness in it, why are we still living like pariahs in our own land?

Sisulu answered that question. The majority of our leaders are nothing but “house negroes” who are comfortable maintaining the affairs of those who colonised us as long as they receive some of the crumbs.

If our black brothers in power are interested in balancing the economic scales, why do white people still control the wealth of this country? This is only possible through collaborators in the legislature, executive and judiciary.

Certain people were offended by Sisulu’s comment that there is a need to overhaul the justice system, which does not work for Africa and Africans.

Perhaps this was because the supremacy and capacity of judges are seldom questioned.

Judges, like all of us, are human and susceptible to faults and idiosyncrasies that play a huge role in the way they relate to the world. It is because of this that we must question and interrogate them, without fear of being threatened.

Judges, no matter how big their voices, are not God. They are fallible and when we see faults in them, we must speak out.

This applies equally all the other arms of government. Doing so will not only move us forward as a country, but also strengthen our democracy.

“If the law does not work for Africans in Africa, then what is the use of the rule of law?”

This question posed by Sisulu might have seemed like an insult to fragile and attention-loving judges, but it is simply an invitation to engage in a discourse.

What acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo wants to do is dictate the terms on which that discourse takes place.

READ: Zondo tackles Sisulu’s ‘unfair attack and insults’ and challenges Ramaphosa to act

Unfortunately, public opinion is not the Zondo commission. People have a right to voice their opinions without fear of being sent to prison.

I believe Sisulu’s opinion piece was important because it exposed who stands where regarding the issue of transformation. This will be helpful, moving forward.

I must add that I hope that she was not invoking black radical rhetoric merely for the sake of doing so, and that her views are as serious as the reality of poor and landless black people.

Dlamini is a Black Consciousness scholar and an LLM student majoring in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, jurisprudence and administrative law


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Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu’s comments on the Constitution and the judiciary has been termed an “extraordinary attack” that is “dangerous and regressive”. What are your thoughts?
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She’s within her rights
11% - 34 votes
It’s all politics
26% - 83 votes
It was irresponsible
63% - 200 votes