'The judiciary is not untouchable': Sisulu won't stop 'exercising her right' to free speech

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Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has been criticised for her negative comments.
Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has been criticised for her negative comments.
PHOTO: Leon Sadiki
  • Minister Lindiwe Sisulu says she will not stop exercising her right to express herself freely.
  • The minister criticised the judiciary during a speech at Unisa on Tuesday. 
  • This time, she directed her criticism at Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu says she will not stop exercising her right to freely express herself on pressing matters affecting the nation, according to her office.

This, after the minister repeated an attack on the judiciary during a speech at Unisa on Tuesday.

Sisulu's office was also adamant her sentiments were received with support from those who share her views on the need to transform the Constitution, her spokesperson Steve Motale told News24 on Wednesday. 

When asked whether she was concerned about public outrage, Motale said: 

To the contrary, Minister Sisulu has received outpouring support from many South Africans who share her views on the need to transform our Constitution so that it accommodates desires for full justice and dignity by millions of previously disadvantaged and oppressed South Africans.

"Her speech at Unisa was well received and her candour well appreciated by the audience."

"She has indicated, on numerous occasions, the importance of the right to freedom of expression, a precious civil liberty that many, including herself, fought so hard for," Motale added. 

During the keynote address on the commemoration of Youth Day at the College of Law at Unisa, Sisulu said "the judiciary is not untouchable, and the South African Constitution is not a holy script".

Sisulu also denied that she had apologised to President Cyril Ramaphosa for an opinion article in January in which she attacked "mentally colonised" judges.  

She went on to say that "evidence suggests the judiciary may be in cahoots with the elite against the very people it should be defending; the problem with the judiciary is it hasn't been above the fray where it should have been".

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

Sisulu was in hot water for similar utterances, which the Presidency described as "recklessness of the highest order" in January. 

Despite this strong condemnation, Sisulu directed her criticism at Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, particularly for his findings in his commission's state capture reports.

Sisulu said: 

That the ascendency to the ANC presidency by President Ramaphosa saved South Africa from eternal abyss and damnation is hugely unfortunate. Against this backdrop, there was consternation concerning the utterance by Chief Justice Zondo regarding the outcome of the ANC elective conference in 2017. Perhaps there is a need for more, not less, debate on ethics, accountability, and code of conduct for the Constitutional Court.

While she hasn't officially thrown in her hat to contest Ramaphosa for the party presidency in the upcoming December elective conference, she hinted that she might consider taking a shot at it.

She said it was never her "wish for our constitutional democracy to be abolished, as some in ignorance and obduracy have labelled my legitimate quest". 

"I want our Constitution to be transformed so that it not only accommodates our people's desire for justice and full dignity, but our people's right to justice and full dignity.

"This must be not only the Constitution's intent but also the Constitution's daily workings," she said.

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