Thapelo Lekabe
Digital Journalist
4 minute read
11 Jan 2022
12:41 pm

Lindiwe Sisulu flirting with Zuma allies by attacking constitution

Thapelo Lekabe

Lindiwe Sisulu's comments about the constitution and judiciary are not based on fact, says political analyst Mpumelelo Mkhabela.

ANC NEC member Lindiwe Sisulu. Picture: Jacques Nelles

ANC veteran and Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu’s opinion piece slamming the South African constitution and judiciary is not based on any fact, but meant to appeal to former president Jacob Zuma’s supporters in the governing party.

That’s according to political analysts who spoke to The Citizen on Tuesday, who say Sisulu’s statements appear to be part of her attempt to revive her bid for a senior position in the ANC’s top six leadership ahead of the party’s elective conference in December this year.

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Political analyst Mpumelelo Mkhabela said it was clear that Sisulu was playing to the gallery of the so-called radical economic transformation (RET) faction of the ANC, that has been associated with Zuma, after her campaign in 2017 for the ANC presidency and deputy presidency failed.

He said her comments about the constitution, the rule of law, and judiciary were political statements that were not based on fact.

“It’s clear that she wants to get support from Jacob Zuma’s allies for whatever political purposes. We know that she has contested the presidency of the ANC before and she campaigned for it, but she didn’t ultimately because she eventually settled for being the deputy president in the Nasrec conference – a position in which she was defeated by DD [David Dabede] Mabuza,” Mkhabela said.

“Now that she says these kinds of things that are very much political and not based on any fact, they are clearly based on campaigning, and it would appear that she is positioning herself once again for a top-six position. It could be president or deputy president or any other position,” he added.

‘A sea of African poverty’

Sisulu, in a recent opinion piece published by IOL – written in her personal capacity as a long-standing member of the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) – criticised the South African Constitution, saying it had resulted in “a sea of African poverty” since the abolishment of apartheid rule in 1994.

She said SA had adopted a “neo-liberal constitution” that had led to the “co-option and invitation of political power brokers to the dinner table, whose job is to keep the masses quiet in their sufferance while they dine caviar with colonised capital”.

Sisulu also lamented the slow pace of land reform in the country and the exclusion of the black majority from economic participation, stating that the constitution had “legitimised wrongdoing under the umbrella of the rule of law”.

Sisulu has ‘nothing to lose’

Given that Sisulu had served in government since 1994 in different portfolios, and she is a struggle veteran in her own right, beside her family’s struggle credentials, Mkhabela said Sisulu had nothing to lose by slamming the constitution in her opinion piece.

“Why does she suddenly think that the constitution that made it possible for her to be a Member of Parliament [and] a minister for all these years is suddenly wrong? It is not clear what her grievance is. The only thing that we know is that she has benefited from the constitution.

“I suspect that there is an element of populism and she is trying to capture support from people that are aggrieved with the constitution and the rule of law… I think that there is a sense that she believes that the next thing she can do, having occupied all these positions [in government] is to gun for the top position as president or deputy president.

“There is a sense that she is seeking elevation, having occupied all of these positions. She has absolutely nothing to lose… This is not somebody who, if she losses a contest tomorrow, she will be thrown into poverty. She is all secured [and] she comes from a well-respected family,” Mkhabela said.

Right to critique constitution

However, political analyst Lesiba Teffo held a different view from Mkhabela, saying that Sisulu, like any member of the public, had a right to opine on the state of affairs in the country.

But Teffo said her criticism of the constitution and judiciary should be constructive and based on clear facts.

“Rather than to play the man, let’s look at what is being said… She has a right like you and me to critique the constitution and propose amendments if and when she feels it is appropriate.

“But those who want to play into the political space that says she is campaigning and trying to set her set herself up in the course to be in the forefront of the media houses, so be it,” he said.

Teffo said it was fair for some sections of society to criticise Sisulu for her comments, because she had been in government since 1994 and had done nothing to address her grievances.

“I also have a problem, not with Sisulu, but the ANC members who behave sometimes like her. They speak as if they’re not in government as if they’re not in power.

“They have the document [constitution], it is an enabling framework to change the conditions of the people.

“If the constitution is a hindrance, then amend it and stop talking like you’re in the opposition and you can’t do anything,” Teffo said.

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