Vhahangwele Nemakonde
Digital Journalist
3 minute read
12 Jan 2022
8:37 pm

Sisulu ‘consulting legal team’ on Zondo as DA calls for public apology

Vhahangwele Nemakonde

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has called on President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his capacity as the Head of the Executive, to instruct Sisulu to retract and issue a public apology.

Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu. Picture: Neil McCartney

Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu says she is consulting her legal team on Acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo and will respond to his comments at the right time.

“I have noted the comments made by the Acting Chief Justice Zondo and they will be engaged with at an appropriate time in an appropriate platform. I am in consultation with my legal team,” said Sisulu on social media.

This after Zondo’s media briefing on Wednesday in which he hit back at Sisulu for her controversial opinion piece in which she criticised the judiciary and constitution.

Responding to the opinion piece, Zondo said it was clear Sisulu’s comments were directed at judges of the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA), Constitutional Court and other courts, especially those who are African.

READ MORE: ‘Rich in insults, poor in analysis’ – Zondo responds to Sisulu’s criticism

He said the judiciary had never said it should not be criticised, only that the criticism should be fair and have proper factual basis.

“But this is not criticism, it’s an insult to the justices of the ConCourt, judges of SCA and judges of various divisions of courts and all African judges who serve this country with distinction, determination to uphold the constitution.

“A very important aspect of the matter arises when you read Sisulu’s article, it is rich in insults and very poor in substantiation in any analysis because it does not refer to any judgments that judges have given which have been analysed,” said Zondo.

While the judiciary will not be dictating to Parliament on how to handle the comments made by Sisulu, Zondo said it would be a “pity” if the insults were “allowed to stand just like that”.

The judiciary will not be engaging Sisulu on the matter either, but hopes Sisulu “has the decency to withdraw the insults against African judges”.

“It should not be acceptable for a MP to insult all African judges.”

Ramaphosa should ‘instruct’ Sisulu to retract

Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance (DA) has called on President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his capacity as the Head of the Executive, to instruct Sisulu to retract and issue a public apology.

“Even if no formal finding of wrongdoing has been made on Sisulu’s remarks, President Ramaphosa has an obligation to protect public trust in the constitutional integrity of other arms of government,” said the DA in a statement on Wednesday.

The party will also call on the minister to appear before 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.

“This Code stipulates, among others, that members ‘act on all occasions in accordance with the public trust placed in them’. It also demands from members that they ‘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’,” said the DA.

In a joint statement, civil society rganisations including the Kathrada Foundation, Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, Corruption Watch and Helen Suzman Foundation, to name a few, condemned SIsulu’s comments.

They said in part: “Her demand for overhaul of the judiciary represents a dangerous and regressive call to render it responsive to the whims of a political elite. 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.”