Sisulu remains defiant amid calls from senior leaders for her censure

Johannesburg – Defiant Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu is preparing for a fight at the ANC’s integrity commission following her public fallout with her boss, President Cyril Ramaphosa.

This as calls were made by senior ANC leaders and Cosatu this week for the governing party to haul her before the commission for her comments on judges and the constitution.

On Saturday, Cosatu president Zingiswa Losi used the ANC national executive committee lekgotla to launch a blistering attack on Sisulu for her attack on the constitution.

Without mentioning her by name, Losi said the country was subjected to persons who swore an oath to defend the constitution but running to the media to rubbish it.

“It is unacceptable and unbecoming for senior leaders and cabinet members to attack the constitution.  The failure of the ANC to discipline deployees is feeding a culture of mediocrity,” she said.

“In fact, we are seen to reward and promote those who have been found wanting. If comrades are tired, then they must leave.

As we emerge from a decade of state capture, we cannot tolerate ANC public representatives publicly attacking our constitution.”

Both the ANC national working committee on Monday and the NEC on Friday became the battleground between supporters of  Ramaphosa and those sympathetic to Sisulu.

Former tourism minister Derek Hanekom led the charge against Sisulu on both occasions, accusing her of breaching her oath of office by attacking the constitution.

Hanekom proposed that Sisulu be hauled before the party’s integrity commission.

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA – JULY 3: Newly appointed Minister of Tourism, Derek Hanekom during an interview at his office on July 3, 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa. Hanekom says he will concentrate on transforming the country’s airports in the next few years. He says South Africa should be a “friendly and safe experience” for tourists. (Photo by Gallo Images / Foto24 / Jaco Marais)

Several NEC members spoke against Sisulu’s opinion piece on judges, whom she called Africans with colonised minds.

Staunch backers of Ramaphosa expressed anger at her for releasing a statement saying she never apologised for her article during her meeting with the president on Wednesday.

Sisulu, who was part of the meeting, was told she was a senior ANC leader and it was wrong of her to attack the judiciary, as well as defy the president.

There were calls for her to be disciplined but a decision was not taken.

An aide of Sisulu said she was unfazed by calls for her to be subjected to the party’s elders.

The source said the commission was “another terrain of the struggle” and that she would expose how the elders’ structure was used to selectively target some leaders.

“[Former deputy president Kgalema] Motlanthe has been saying that the ANC must die.

This is a former deputy president, he has not been taken to the commission. [Transport Minister Fikile] Mbalula said the Zondo Commission is a place where people go [to] urinate.

This is a commission established by the president and supported by the ANC; he was not summoned to the commission,” said the insider.

Amid attacks on her, Sisulu’s lobbyists this week intensified her campaign to contest Ramaphosa when the ANC holds its conference in December.

“This is not about the apology, it is about the direction of the country,” the source added.

Sisulu, who remained silent during the ANC NEC meeting, was defended by NEC member Tony Yengeni, among others.

Yengeni said Sisulu’s views should be debated instead of punishing her.

“Tony led the charge. He said this is an opinion piece, let’s engage her views instead of referring her to the integrity commission,” an NEC member sympathetic to Sisulu said.

“There are many other NEC members who write opinion pieces that are against ANC policy but they are not taken to the integrity commission.”

Calls for Sisulu’s censure comes after a dramatic Thursday night of contradictory statements between her and Ramaphosa.

It all started when the Presidency issued a statement saying Ramaphosa had admonished Sisulu and that the minister had retracted her statement and affirmed her support for the judiciary.

The statement quoted Sisulu saying her column was “unsubstantiated, gratuitous and deeply hurtful”.

How-ever, Sisulu hit back, distancing herself from the statement, saying that “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.”

The Presidency later issued a statement under the name of Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele, saying it stood by the earlier statement.

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