South Africa


In a spit-fire speech to Unisa, Lindiwe Sisulu repeats her January attack on judiciary and SA Constitution

In a spit-fire speech to Unisa, Lindiwe Sisulu repeats her January attack on judiciary and SA Constitution
Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu. (Photo: Leila Dougan)

The tourism minister appears to have again refuted the President’s statement that she had apologised for a previous attack on the judiciary.

Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu repeated her January attack on the judiciary and the Constitution in a spit-fire speech at Unisa on Tuesday.  

“The judiciary is not untouchable and the South African Constitution is not a holy script,” said Sisulu in a speech to Unisa’s College of Law. Sisulu also denied that she had apologised to President Cyril Ramaphosa for an opinion article in January in which she equated some members of the judiciary to mentally colonised “house niggers”, an African American term for sell-outs.

She said: “…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.”   


The 11-page speech went on in the same vein at some length.

“…the courts do make law, and if the result is unsatisfactory after 28 years, must we not have a second look at how we can aid the courts through judicial reform and reform of the Constitution,” said Sisulu, who has been in the Cabinet for 28 years.

“I stick by every word I wrote on [Hi Mzansi, have we seen justice?, published by IOL on 7 January]. Freedom of speech is part and parcel of the freedom we fought for, gave our lives for; shaken by raw nerves to speak the truth, a whole mob was mobilised to interpret the article on the Constitution,” said Sisulu. 

The minister has soft-launched a campaign to take over from Ramaphosa as ANC leader when the party holds its elective conference in December, but it has not really taken off.  Former health minister Zweli Mkhize has also said he will run, so the speech may have been an attempt to reinsert herself into the mainstream and hasten a face-off with the President, who is facing a drop in public support after former spy boss Arthur Fraser landed the farm robbery bombshell. 

Sisulu laid into Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, who defended the judiciary against Sisulu’s January article.  

“What was most astonishing was to watch the then Acting Chief Justice take umbrage and declare that ALL black judges had been insulted. He went on to list himself, all the black judges of the Constitutional Court, all the black judges of the Supreme Court of Appeal, and the Judge Presidents of the various divisions — to my horror, I must say.”  

Sisulu implied that she had meant only some black judges.   

She said that the uproar that greeted her article was political and instigated and that its meaning “flew right over the likes of Cosatu leaders” and “some insignificant Zimbabwean also desperate for political recognition”. She did not name the Zimbabwean person.  

“I have been accused of not respecting the Constitution. That is rubbish,” said Sisulu, who listed the 17 amendments to the foundational law. “I have used my freedom of speech to express my view from an African perspective and I stick to that view.”   

She defended her article’s use of the term “house niggers”, saying it was “known language” and that comparisons with the African American language were contextual and apposite. “Is the Africanisation of the law a swear word?”

She also appeared to again gainsay Ramaphosa’s statement in January that she had apologised.

“When the President asked to see me about the matter, it was a very cordial meeting and we looked for the offending parts [in the article] and we found it. [The line] which said ‘Blacks with colonised minds’. I asked why would that be so offensive and pointed out that I received colonial education for a better part of my life and I consciously struggle to unlearn.”

A tourism minister is meant to be a country’s leading brand ambassador, but Sisulu painted a picture of a Hobbesian country.

“Almost 30 years into our democracy, the feelings of being proudly South African have dissipated, leaving behind disappointment, disillusionment and deep anger born of a sense of betrayal.”

As tourism minister, Sisulu plans to attract 10 million tourists to South Africa annually.  DM


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  • David Bertram says:

    “Almost 30 years into our democracy, the feelings of being proudly South African have dissipated, leaving behind disappointment, disillusionment and deep anger born of a sense of betrayal.” for the first time a useless piece of excrement has said exactly how I as a white South African feel! Thanks in no small part to the ANC!

  • David A says:

    “I asked why would that be so offensive and pointed out that I received colonial education for a better part of my life and I consciously struggle to unlearn.”

    What a joke…good thing she’s not the Minister of Education!

  • Ian Wallace Wallace says:

    Tourism in South Africa is in need of resuscitation it would be really nice if the government would recognize the potential that tourism has to help lower the unemployment figures, grow the GDP and simultaneously increase the tax revenue.

    I would recommend that the first thing they should do in this regard is to stop parking ministers in the position that they do not know what else to do with. This position has been given as “sweetheart” position too many times in the past and the current incumbent has no ambitions of applying any of her talents to being an ambassador for the country or the industry.

  • Lorinda Winter says:

    The Minister seems to have conveniently forgotten that she has been part of the ruling elite for the past 28 years. Maybe if she had concentrated more on ‘serving the people’ instead of ‘unlearning her colonial upbringing’ the country would not be in the parlous state it is in.

  • Miles Japhet says:

    A dangerous opportunist with a populist agenda – no proven solutions to unemployment in her ideology.

  • Dennis Bailey says:

    Is this the person we want representing SA to attract tourists who already see SA as a country of despot rule encouraging capture by opportunist businessmen from India?

  • Ian Callender-Easby says:

    When someone shows you who they really are, believe them the first time.

  • Gerrit Marais says:

    The hypocrisy would have been shocking had it come from someone else. Her time would have been better spent explaining the millions she spent on travel and flowers (FFS).

  • Geoff Krige says:

    Sisulu is a product of ANC leadership thinking – “if the law doesn’t suit ME and MY political and financial ambitions then the law can be disregarded”. Never mind stability in the economy so that jobs can be created. Never mind delivering services. Never mind ensuring availability of good education and health services. Same sort of destructive thinking we get from Putin and Trump and Bolsonaro.

  • Carsten Rasch says:

    Lots of food for thought here – the way Sisulu is going about her job makes one think she is targeting only African tourists. But what was Unisa thinking inviting the Tourism minister to address a College of Law, one who seems to think the judiciary ‘makes’ laws? I wonder what she thinks Parliament does. And finally, what makes her think she isn’t a founding member of the elite she attacks? It would be laughable if it wasn’t so damn tragic.

  • Jeff Bolus says:

    Why was Lindiwe Sisulu invited to address the Unisa College of Law ?

  • Hermann Funk says:

    “the feelings of being proudly South African have dissipated, leaving behind disappointment, disillusionment and deep anger born of a sense of betrayal.”

    And you are one of them who caused disillusionment and anger and betrayed the citizens of this country.

  • Ion Williams says:

    The social contract architecture, more specifically, the architecture of democracy, creates the ability for unethical immoral politicians to corrupt the intent of the democratic process and fraudulently extract value that is entrusted to them for the good of the community. The architecture needs to be rehashed to remove this mechanism. It is a flaw with democracy it relies on politicians being morally sound, something that is apparently a bridge to far for most if not all. The architecture needs to remove politicians access to your money without your explicit consent, and morality and it’s realization, justice, needs to be defined in a way that is acceptable to all without exception or coercion. As justice is the protection and preservation of what one values, a universal value theory, that is unanimously accepted, will open the door for a universal theory of justice. If one can realize the above it removes the need for a central government to administer justice. That will in turn open the door to a universal social contract theory with its own political, economic, government theory. The other function of central government that is fundamentally immoral but everyone should agree to is the contribution benefit mechanism or tax-welfare protocol. In its ideal incarnation it should affect all equally without exception. Imagine a society where everyone contributes equally and everyone benefits equally, instead of contribution being heavily biased towards the productive…….space.

  • Ian McGill says:

    This woman cannot have her cake and eat it. Either she benefits from the modern economy , or she can go back to the good old days and stay in the kraal. I’m personally fed up of the idea that colonialism was pure and utter evil. Just ask yourself what was here before it? Lots of hospitals, schools, universities? the list goes on. It’s a pathetic attempt to blame a scapegoat for her shortcomings, that and a delusion she can be the next president.

  • Confucious Says says:

    Still wanting to be a chief! For Sisulu and her ilk, laws and The Constitution are an inconvenience that hinder their plans of looting and degradation.

  • Rob vZ says:

    “As tourism minister, Sisulu plans to attract 10 million tourists to South Africa annually“
    I love how you inserted her actual mandate, as the final thought. When last did this minister actually talk about her portfolio ??

  • Sam Shu says:

    I too share concerns about the neo-liberal economic “consensus” deal but the free press, courts and the constitution are safeguards against tyranny. We have a terrific constitution and a decent (not perfect) judiciary. These need to be used, not abused, in this struggle – that is why and how we have them. This woman is dangerous and disgraces her family name

    • Kanu Sukha says:

      One simply needs to look at places like the Philippines, where in the most recent elections, two of the most known gangster family members (like the ANC has become) … have been elected President and vice-president ! To hell with ethics . Here we have an example of one who instead of overcoming ‘colonial’ education has decided to wallow in it with a rant parading as ‘learning’.

  • Gerrie Pretorius Pretorius says:

    Let’s see if cr can now grow some b&lls and get rid of this embarrassment.
    ” … Sisulu painted a picture of a Hobbesian country.” No picture needs to be painted. It is clear for all the world to see that SA has been turned into a banana republic by the anc.

  • glynis hyslop says:

    While I recognise Ms Sisulu right to free speech I am aghast at her statements given that she is the Minster of Tourism.
    Perhaps she has not .. like us in tourism… seen the impact of the lack of tourism on our businesses and so many at grass roots level.
    She needs to be removed from her position as soon as possible.

  • Russ H says:

    Once again clearly RET faction. Irony is that she is part of the elite and has proven herself to be utterly inept and clueless in every portfolio ! Nasty piece of work !

    What the hell was Unisa thinking ???

  • Simon D says:

    Cyril is busy, the clowns are at play. Even if Cyril wasn’t busy, he’s a nervous, scaredy little school boy too terrified to actually be a president, so suppose the outcome is the same.

    The ANC really are the downfall of any progress in SA.

  • Jairo Arrow says:

    Princess Sisulu was a senior Cabinet Minister for 28 years in Post Apartheid South Africa.
    Show the million of unemployed black South Africans what you have done to liberate them from House Niggerism! Nix. Nada. Nil.

  • Paddy Ross says:

    I thought that it is Parliament that makes the laws and the courts that interpret the law?

  • Rod H MacLeod says:

    “A tourism minister is meant to be a country’s leading brand ambassador, but Sisulu painted a picture of a Hobbesian country.” That about sums her up.

  • Rory Macnamara says:

    “Sisulu implied that she had meant only some black judges.” and so she backtracked on most of what she meant (sic). watch out Sisulu, backtracking as fast as you are in heels can cause damage and an accident to yourself! if this is the level of a presidential candidate, we are heading into a fourth world country or we will be the first fourth world country.

  • Jennifer Hughes says:

    Lindiwe Sisulu is one of the aspects of our beautiful country that dissipates my feelings of pride.

  • Roelf Pretorius says:

    OK – firstly I don’t understand why she is making such a speech before UNISA. I would think that UNISA should have the wisdom to invite people with more credibility than her.

    Secondly, I have news for her. Courts do NOT make law – that is the job of parliament, of which she is one. And it is the failure of both parliament and herself to do that properly that “the feelings of being proudly South African have dissipated” and all that, and that she is now trying to make our Constitutional dispensation the scapegoat for. But it is nothing new; the Zuma faction have long been doing this to get away from their own responsibilities.

    Thirdly, her views don’t reflect an African perspective (neither traditionally nor according to modern African standards), but an African NATIONALIST one. Only African nationalists keep going on about “colonisation” and “decolonisation”. She – and parliament – over a whole generation from 1994 did nothing to “de-colonize” SA; no, they wanted to keep using it as an excuse to stay in power. In fact, I believe that it is she herself that shows signs of “colonized” thought, because she is not prepared to take responsibility for the failures of the ANC in this regard, which is why Africa is so far behind the world in most aspects.

    But it is fine. Her ranting only hastens the demise of the ANC; and when the ANC is out, we shall at last have “de-colonised” ourselves from their nationalism.

    • Brian Van Der Vijver says:

      Her expression seems to suggest that she has picked up a bad smell. I wonder where it came from?

    • Sharyn Dabbs says:

      Well said. This woman is without credibility, and has shown herself one of the worst thieves, as PE no longer has water, thanks to her tenure as water sanitation minister. Disgusting person

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