WRAP | ANC distances itself from Sisulu comments; she is ‘consulting legal team’

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12 January 19:25

In her latest opinion piece published by IOL on Wednesday, and responding to an op-ed in the Daily Maverick by Mavuso Msimang, Lindiwe Sisulu says her comments on the judiciary were "narrowly read".

She said she wrote the opinion piece, which resulted in Raymond Zondo addressing her comments in a press briefing, in her capacity as an ANC member "privileged to serve in its structures, among others the NEC, NWC, and as Chairperson of Social Transformation Sub-committee."

She continued saying in her latest piece: "That, however, did not assist those who, for expediency, narrowly read it as a cabinet minister writing. I thought it necessary to contextualize my opinion since several commentators either misread or willfully ignored in what capacity I penned the op-ed."

Sisulu says her views were which were taken as "ill-discipline", and that there is no substance to this.

She believes that members of the ANC are allowed to engage in debates, arguments, criticism and discussion around policy issues.

12 January 18:37

Minister Lindiwe Sisulu’s spokesperon Mpumzi Zuzile said she is consulting with her legal team and “the minister has noted the comments made by the Acting Chief Justice Zondo and they will be engaged with at an appropriate time in an appropriate platform”.

12 January 18:23

DA's leader, John Steenhuisen is calling on President Cyril Ramaphosa to instruct Minister Lindiwe Sisulu to retract her comments made in an opinion piece, and issue a public apology for "undermining the judiciary and casting aspirations on its integrity".

"President Ramaphosa has an obligation to protect public trust in the constitutional integrity of other arms of government," Steenhuisen said in a statement on Wednesday.

He said the party would also call Sisulu to Parliament’s Ethics Committee "where she will be asked to explain how, as a member of Parliament, she reconciles her attack on the Judiciary with the Parliamentary Code of Conduct."

The code calls on members to “discharge their obligations in terms of the Constitution, to Parliament and the public at large, by placing the public interest above their own interests” and that they “maintain public confidence and trust in the integrity of Parliament and thereby engender the respect and confidence that society needs to have in Parliament as a representative institution.”

Steenhuisen said that as a member of the national executive, Sisulu's "divisive and race-baiting op-ed" means that she has violated her oath and "undermined the constitutional principle of separation of powers between the Executive and Judiciary."

12 January 18:22

ANC distances itself from Sisulu’s comments

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe: "The views attributed to our NEC member comrade Lindiwe Sisulu are her own personal views and do not in anyway represent the official position of the ANC.

"When leaders of the ANC speak in their own name and right  they do so in their individual capacity.

"The ANC has rightful platforms and channels to convey its official positions and can't therefore be drawn into statements uttered by its individual leaders outside its own authority.

"The unfortunate part is when statements attributed to our individual leaders go against formal and official positions of the ANC.

"The ANC has consistently and without fail conveyed its official position to be about the affirmation and respect of the judiciary.

"The ANC has sufficient internal organizational platforms which every member regardless of their standing and stature can use to register and engage on their views."

12 January 18:03

The EFF on Wednesday condemned Acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo's response to a column by Minister Lindiwe Sisulu.

In her column, which was published by IOL, Sisulu launched an attack on the judiciary and the Constitution.

Zondo, in his Wednesday press briefing, said he was horrified by the comments and questioned if Sisulu was still committed to the rule of law.

In a statement following the briefing, the EFF called it unnecessary and repetitive.

"Inappropriately, Zondo seems to have taken a political debate, submitted to public discourse by someone who practices political oversight in this country, personally and inadvertently made our judiciary a participant in what is obviously an election battle within the ruling party," the EFF charged.

The party says it was not Zondo's place to respond to the minister.

12 January 17:10

Zondo says it is regrettable that he has had to interrupt working on part two of the State Capture Inquiry - a "national assignment" - to respond to Sisulu.

The briefing ends.

- Karyn Maughan

12 January 17:08

Zondo: "I just want to say this - no amount of intimidation, no amount of bullying is going to make the judiciary not uphold their oath of office. If that hurts certain people, so be it."

- Karyn Maughan

12 January 17:05

Zondo says he was "horrified" by Sisulu's article, particularly given her senior role in government.

- Karyn Maughan

12 January 17:04

Zondo says that the judiciary is currently not considering laying a criminal charge of "scandalising the court" against Sisulu.

- Karyn Maughan

12 January 17:01

Zondo says he is not aware that his life is at increased risk, "but we will see as time goes on".

- Karyn Maughan

12 January 16:59

Zondo confirms that he did consult with his colleagues over Sisulu's article.

-Karyn Maughan

12 January 16:58

Zondo: "As the Acting Chief Justice, I have certain responsibilities. If carrying those responsibilities out means I am reducing my chances of becoming Chief Justice, that is fine."

- Karyn Maughan

12 January 16:55

Zondo says Sisulu has "questioned the rule of law" - despite the fact that she has taken an oath to protect the constitution, which is at the heart of rule of law.

- Karyn Maughan

12 January 16:54

When the courts are no longer available to resolve disputes, Zondo says, people may resort to violence.

- Karyn Maughan

12 January 16:53

Zondo: "The courts are very fundamental to our constitutional democracy. People need to have confidence that the courts will resolve their disputes.

"When people like Ms Sisulu attack the courts, what answer would she give to people who ask whether they can take their disputes to the courts?"

- Karyn Maughan

12 January 16:44

Zondo says this is probably the worst insult that has been levelled against the judiciary.

- Karyn Maughan

12 January 16:44

COMMENT | Strong statement by Zondo. There has been a lack of leadership in recent times at the top of the judiciary.

Zondo's response to an extraordinary attack by a senior minister was warranted and necessary.

The courts, of course, should not respond to every single attack or point of criticism, but Sisulu's missive last week was out of the ordinary.

And the courts need to protect their independence. Zondo confirmed that the judiciary will not be swayed, will continue to do what is asked of it in terms of the Constitution.

- Pieter du Toit

12 January 16:43

Zondo is asked what he "seeks to achieve" by responding to Sisulu in a press conference. Zondo says the judiciary wants to make it clear that what Sisulu has done is unacceptable.

- Karyn Maughan

12 January 16:40

Zondo says he has not engaged with Sisulu over her column.

She did not engage with the judiciary about that column, he says. But he indicates that the judiciary would be willing to meet with her.

- Karyn Maughan

12 January 16:39

Zondo says the judiciary hopes that Sisulu will "have the decency to withdraw the insult that she has hurled at African judges".

- Karyn Maughan

12 January 16:37

Zondo: Some of the criticism we get, we don't respond to. But the particular reason for responding to Sisulu was "the insult", he said.

What the president does about it is up to him, Zondo says.

"But we have a right to say this is unacceptable".

- Karyn Maughan

12 January 16:34

Zondo asked whether having a press briefing was an appropriate way of addressing Sisulu's column and why he chose to do so in public.

He responds that the judiciary is independent and will deal with its issues independent of the executive.

- Karyn Maughan

12 January 16:32

Zondo says he has seen that the NPA has put together a task team to address State Capture corruption but has little detail on it.

He has no detail on the potential establishment of courts to deal with these cases.

- Karyn Maughan

12 January 16:27

Zondo says the judiciary's rulings "will speak for us" and it will be the South African public who evaluates judges.

- Karyn Maughan

12 January 16:24

Zondo says it is now up to the other arms of state to decide what to do about Sisulu's attacks on the judiciary.

It would "be a pity if it was allowed to stand like that", he adds.

- Karyn Maughan

12 January 16:23

Zondo says he previously said that the judiciary must be ready for attacks - and Sisulu has proved this with her "completely unwarranted" attack.

- Karyn Maughan

12 January 16:22

Zondo promises that the judiciary will not be swayed by Sisulu's insults.

"We will not change, we will still continue and do our jobs".

- Karyn Maughan

12 January 16:21

Zondo: "We as the judiciary have done nothing other than doing our job. Ms Sisulu might not like some of the decisions that we make, but we take our oath of office seriously."

- Karyn Maughan

12 January 16:20

COMMENT | Acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo is excoriating Lindiwe Sisulu, saying her attack on the judiciary is not grounded in fact, not based on analyses of court judgments and constitutes nothing more than accusations and insults.

He says it resembles something which "a young person" who has no access to facts would write.

Wonder what the author of that piece thinks.

- Pieter du Toit

12 January 16:20

Zondo says it should not be acceptable that a member of Parliament and the executive should - without any facts - chose to insult the judiciary in the way that Sisulu has.

It is "very important that we draw the line about conduct...that is not acceptable", he says.

- Karyn Maughan

12 January 16:18

Zondo says it is "most regrettable" that these insults came from a senior member of the ANC, Parliament and the executive.

That such a senior member should see fit to insult the judiciary, particularly African judges, is "most regrettable", he says.

Zondo says he does not believe Sisulu has facts to back up her arguments.

Here there are no facts", says Zondo.

- Karyn Maughan

12 January 16:15

Zondo says Sisulu's article is "rich in insult, but poor in substantiation and analysis".

He says Sisulu fails to refer to any judgments to back up her arguments. She also does not point to any facts.

-Karyn Maughan

12 January 16:15

Zondo: "I just want to say that we as the judiciary have never said that we should not be criticised...but we say that criticism should be fair and have a proper and factual basis.

"But this is not criticism, it is an insult to the justices of the ConCourt, SCA, High Court and all the African judges who serve this country with determination to uphold the constitution."

- Karyn Maughan

12 January 16:12

Zondo reads Sisulu's conclusion: "There is a need for an overhaul of a justice system that does not work for Africa and Africans. If the law does not sufficiently address the issue of the food fight, the law will fail, and inevitably it will play out in the streets.

"We have a neo-liberal constitution with foreign inspiration, but who are the interpreters? And where is the African value system of this constitution and the rule of law? If the law does not work for Africans in Africa, then what is the use of the rule of law?"

-Karyn Maughan

12 January 16:11

Zondo says Sisulu "must be talking about" judges at the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal, Judge Presidents and Judges of the High Court.

-Karyn Maughan

12 January 16:10

Zondo continues reading Sisulu's comments: "When it comes to crucial economic issues and property matters, the same African cosies up with their elitist colleagues to sing from the same hymn book, spouting the Roman-Dutch law of property. But where is the indigenous law? It has been reduced to a footnote in your law schools.

"Where are the African value systems and customs of land, wealth, and property?

"Today, in the high echelons of our judicial system are these 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."

-Karyn Maughan

12 January 16:09

Zondo says Sisulu has used the above words to "describe the interpreters of the law, who are judges".

-Karyn Maughan

12 January 16:08

He reads out the following in Sisulu's article :"The most dangerous African today is the mentally colonised African. And when you put them in leadership positions or as interpreters of the law, they are worse than your oppressor. They have no African or Pan African inspired ideological grounding. Some are confused by foreign belief systems.

"In America, these interpreters are called the House Negroes. It is what the father of black history Carter Woodson strenuously complained about in his famous book The Miseducation of the Negro.

Woodson wrote, “If you control a man’s thinking, you don’t have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him to stand here or go yonder, he will find his proper place. You do not need to send him to the back door, he will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit."

- Karyn Maughan

12 January 16:05

Acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo says Minister Lindiwe Sisulu's op-ed article both "attacks" and "insults" the judiciary.

-Karyn Maughan

12 January 16:01

'We have got to change' - Sisulu stands by comments on Constitution, judiciary

Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu says she stands by her comments penned in a controversial opinion piece in which she attacks the country’s Constitution and judiciary. 

In her article published on IOL last week, she reflects on injustices suffered by South Africans during colonialism and apartheid. 

Sisulu also launches a scathing attack on the Constitution and the judiciary. She questions how poverty could still exist under a Constitution admired around the world, and asks whether the country needs to overhaul its justice system. 

Sisulu told News24 this week that she stood by her statements, adding that she would comment further on the matter later.  

"That which is in the article, I stand by it. We have got to change. What is the point of self-correction if you cannot look back and say, we have done this wrong, and we can do it better? That article was sensationalised. We have got to change."

As the backlash surrounding her statements grows, questions have been raised about why Sisulu, a government minister since 1994, has not herself brought about the changes she is seeking.  

She defended herself, claiming she had brought about a change in every government department she had been tasked to lead. 

"They have not listened to me before, have they? I have been in government before, and every time I have been in government, I have changed each department, precisely because I have a mission. I am not here just as a member of the ANC, and I have suffered."

Government distances itself

On Wednesday, Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele told News24 that Sisulu’s statements were not an accurate representation of what the Constitution stood for. 

"She misrepresents it in the sense that she projects it as a useless tool which is not responsive to the historical problems that were caused by apartheid in this country. The second thing is that she creates an impression that this Constitution was forced on South Africans. She negates all the processes that took place before this Constitution was adopted," he said. 

- Zintle Mahlati

12 January 15:29

Karyn Maughan | Sisulu echoes Zuma in baseless attack on 'mentally colonised' black judges

Days after Acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo released his first State Capture report, Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has argued racist agendas control the justice system. But, as Karyn Maughan writes, Sisulu's accusations seem aimed at avoiding accountability.


12 January 15:27

OPINION | Chrispin Phiri: Lindiwe Sisulu's attack on Constitution - a distortion of ANC policy

Chrispin Phiri questions whether Lindiwe Sisulu's attack on the Constitution and the judiciary is really an attack on power being held to account.


12 January 15:25

Acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo is on Wednesday set to publicly respond to Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu's opinion piece in which she argues that racist agendas control the justice system.

In a rare move, Zondo called a media briefing for 16:00 to respond to the piece published on IOL last week, titled "Hi Mzansi, have we seen justice?"

The only other time a chief justice had called such a briefing to publicly respond was when former chief justice Mogoeng Mogoeng announced he would meet with former president Jacob Zuma over attacks on judges.

In her piece, Sisulu questioned the Constitution and whether it had done enough to deal with structural issues brought about by apartheid.

She has faced widespread criticism about the article, in which she also questioned the moral standing of the country’s judges and compared unnamed judges with "house Negroes".

12 January 15:25

Civil Society responds to Minister Lindiwe Sisulu’s statements on the justice system

"On 7 January 2022, Minister of Tourism Lindiwe Sisulu published an article in which she launched an extraordinary attack on South Africa’s justice system, its Constitution, and the judiciary. Although authored in her personal capacity, Ms Sisulu’s public utterances, made as a member of the Executive and as a high-ranking member of the African National Congress, must be repudiated in the strongest terms.

"Her demand for overhaul of the judiciary represents a dangerous and regressive call to render it responsive to the whims of a political elite. The very foundation of our constitutional democracy rests on the rule of law, which in turn depends for its health and tenacity on a fiercely independent and impartial judiciary at all levels.

"Calls to pack our courts with persons who would privilege political expediency over legal principle represent a clear threat to the judiciary’s ability to uphold the Constitution.

"Ms Sisulu’s attempt to sully the legitimacy of our constitutional order, and by extension the idea of the rule of law on which it is based, is a shameful exploitation of the genuine plight of so many in our country. As a prominent member of government for a quarter of a century, Ms Sisulu would have had a uniquely clear view, during the years of State Capture, of the deliberate restructuring of the South African state to serve the interests of a subset of our political class at the expense of ordinary South Africans, especially the poor and vulnerable who daily suffer economic depravation.

"She knows, or should know, that it is not the judiciary which legislates and implements government policy, but parliament and the executive: to attempt to blame the judiciary for their failures is but the most cynical exercise in blameshifting.

"It also bears noting that Ms Sisulu’s recent article registers against a sinister cacophony of unwarranted attacks on the judiciary by political actors. These appear intended only to foreclose on the prospect of accountability for crimes, malfeasance and other wrongdoing associated with public office.

"Judges find it difficult to respond to scurrilous attacks such as that authored by Ms Sisulu. The nature of their office typically demands that they maintain a dignified silence in the hope that decency and principled commitment to the values of the Constitution will prevail.

"When those values are threatened, civil society is, however, obliged to speak out. We do so now, collectively deploring Ms Sisulu’s attack on the Constitution and the judiciary, even as we are saddened and disbelieving that such attack would issue from a leading member of the party that rightly prides itself on having established that very document — the embodiment of democratic South Africa’s aspirations."

12 January 15:19

NPA creates state capture 'task force' after Zondo finds it failed to prosecute corruption

More than a week after the Zondo Commission slammed the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for its failure to take on state capture, the state has finally responded: with the announcement that a new "task force" would focus on these cases.


12 January 15:18

'Recklessness of highest order': Presidency 'strongly distances' itself from Sisulu's comments

Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele is concerned that, despite holding ministerial positions, some ANC leaders still resort to making detrimental statements that could distort government positions as they eye powerful positions at the party’s 2022 elective conference.

Speaking to News24 on Wednesday morning, Gungubele said strange statements could be expected during the "silly season", in reference to the lead-up to ANC elective conference in December.

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