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Lindiwe Sisulu: ‘Men in the ANC think the presidency is reserved for them’

Lindiwe Sisulu: ‘Men in the ANC think the presidency is reserved for them’
Lindiwe Sisulu. (Photo: Gallo Images / Sharon Seretlo)

ANC National Executive Committee member Lindiwe Sisulu has spent two decades as a government minister — now she wants the top job.

Minister of Tourism and ANC National Executive Committee member, Lindiwe Sisulu, is one of two women vying for the presidency of her party. She and her long-time friend Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma have both expressed their interest in the position, but it will be no easy feat for either.

Sisulu believes patriarchal tendencies within the governing party have propelled men to new heights, while women are left behind.

“Some men are insecure in the ANC… they are not comfortable working with women in strategic positions,” said Sisulu.

“Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma is my comrade and a friend. We have been through the Struggle together and, I guess, even now, we are in this together representing our respective constituencies and the future of our children.

“I have no doubt that we will end up together, as we have been in the past. She is a strong woman. My fear is that men may be tempted to double-cross us again because they mistakenly believe the presidency is their place,” she said.

Sisulu has been travelling the country meeting ANC branches and delivering lectures. She says there are a range of issues which ANC members complain about, including certain actions of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

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ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa’s 2017 campaign was focused on ending corruption within the party. This led to the implementation of the controversial step-aside rule which has affected some top names.

In the past year, the NPA has cracked the whip on those alleged to have committed serious crimes. This has seen a number of high-profile politicians being charged, including suspended ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule.

Free State asbestos corruption case: Ace Magashule claims delays ‘deliberate’ ahead of ANC’s elective conference


Magashule has been charged with fraud, corruption and money laundering over a contract the Free State Department of Human Settlements awarded to the Blackhead Consulting joint venture to audit and remove asbestos from homes six years ago. Magashule was provincial premier at the time.

“Branches are concerned about their daily struggles, electricity, children that are beating teachers, teenage pregnancy, rape, selective application of justice, wasteful expenditure on the commissions of inquiry as they see no value for money, gender-based violence, the NPA’s role in ANC politics and the impact of money in eroding values of the ANC,” said Sisulu.

“They are also worried about leaders who have money, because no one knows where our leaders get their money.

“I am concerned about the NPA, as to why they are applying selective justice. Why do they charge some leaders and leave others? The current challenge is corruption, rape of our children, the education system, electricity, GBV and the economy,” she said.

Read more in Daily Maverick: “In a spit-fire speech to Unisa, Lindiwe Sisulu repeats her January attack on judiciary and SA Constitution

Sisulu’s criticism of the NPA comes as no surprise. She caused a stir earlier this year when she wrote an open letter titled, Hi Mzansi, have you seen justice?’ in which she criticised the South African Constitution. 

Of the judiciary, she said: “Today, in the high echelons of our judicial system, are these mentally colonised Africans who have settled with the worldview and mindset of those who have dispossessed their ancestors.

“They are only too happy to lick the spittle of those who falsely claim superiority. The lack of confidence that permeates their rulings against their own speaks very loudly, while others, secure in their agenda, clap behind closed doors.”

Her take on the Constitution and the rule of law ruffled many feathers and even saw Chief Justice Raymond Zondo responding to her in a press briefing:

“[What Sisulu wrote] is not criticism, it is an insult to the justices of the Constitutional Court, the judges of the Supreme Court of Appeal, the judge presidents of the High Court, and all African judges who serve this country with distinction and determination to uphold the Constitution,” Zondo said at the time.

Read more in Daily Maverick: The race is on for the top six in the ANC, and the outcome will affect us all

This was widely seen as the beginning of her ANC presidential campaign. However, Sisulu begs to differ.

“I have not been campaigning for leadership. That process has recently opened. What I did was to respond to calls that requested me to deliver lectures. That is not a campaign, because it has nothing to do with a manifesto,” she said.

So far, she has not received a single endorsement from any of the Provincial Executive Committees (PEC), but Sisulu does not consider that a failure.

“When it comes to PEC, it means we have a different understanding, because that is a conference of branches, not PECs. If it was of the PECs, I was going to lobby PECs. Lastly, I don’t buy positions. Many trade-offs in these PECs are akin to business transactions, not about politics or taking our people out of the morass of unemployment, poverty, petrol price and electricity problems.

“They are purely about positions in exchange for money. That’s not how I was raised… you won’t find me in business deals for power or positions,” she said.

Allan Boesak: Sisulu is the right woman for the job

Cleric and anti-apartheid stalwart Allan Boesak has long been an ally of Sisulu and thinks she is the perfect person for the job.

Boesak says it’s time for the ANC to elect a woman to lead the party, and that woman is Lindiwe Sisulu.

“I have been impressed by Lindiwe Sisulu because I find her to be a very, very strong and resolute person, one who at least tries to do the thing that I have seen very few politicians across the board do… hold up ideals of integrity and decency and honesty and commitment and courage. 

“The reason I say she is a strong woman is the way  I saw her holding up in the beginning of the year when she raised issues which many of us find fundamentally true about the Constitution, and about the way the law has been understood and applied by the courts in South Africa. 

“The question of the land… at the moment, the indigenous people of this country are blocked  from this claim by the very Constitution that is supposed to enshrine our freedom and dignity.”

Read more in Daily Maverick: “Lindiwe Sisulu’s extraordinary attack on South Africa’s Constitution

He lamented the deteriorating state of the governing party, saying it was only Sisulu who was capable of turning the situation around.

“The ANC is in a hopeless state, and the one hope I have is that in December they would realise exactly the quagmire they themselves put the country into.

“The one person that can give the right leadership is Lindiwe Sisulu – if they have the courage to overcome this patriarchal pattern,” he said.

Sisulu not likely to be elected – analyst

Political analyst Levy Ndou believes Sisulu stands no chance of being elected into the ANC top six, even if the party wanted a woman at the helm. He said this was because she had so far not been endorsed by any region of the ANC.

“Even in the ANC, when they talk about a woman, she cannot be a women’s candidate,” he said.

Ndou went on to outline why it was difficult to assess Sisulu’s performance as a minister, but noted the contribution she had made through her political activism.

“She has been deployed in many departments and maybe we should judge her on the basis of the time given to her in those responsibilities that she has not been given a fair chance to settle.

“There are a few things she has done, but Sisulu has always represented a group of women who have been able to go out and fight for the liberation of South Africa, and we are where we are because of the contribution and sacrifices made by women like Sisulu,” he said.

Sisulu was detained between 1975 and 1976 for her involvement in political activism. She subsequently joined Umkhonto we Sizwe and worked in underground structures of the ANC while in exile.

Sisulu returned from exile in 1990 and worked as a personal assistant to former president Jacob Zuma when he was heading the ANC’s intelligence department. She also served as chief administrator for the ANC at the Convention for a Democratic South Africa in 1991, and as administrator of intelligence at the ANC Department of Intelligence and Security in 1992. 

She has been a Member of Parliament since 1994. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Glyn Morgan says:

    With Sisulu in the running she is right about the ‘Men in the ANC think the presidency is reserved for them’!

  • Andrew W says:

    Miss Sisulu’s poltical doublespeak is a masterclass. Nothing she says makes any practical or logical sense. She is quite clearly drowning in her own Orwellian wet dream

  • Jon Quirk says:

    Few ministers, in any government, in any country in the World, have such a dismal record of catastrophic failures – of performance, of judgement, of whom she backs and supports, as that walking disaster-zone as Ms Sisulu.

  • Johan Buys says:

    Title needs fixing : the RET faction thinks the presidency is reserved for severely compromised individuals with a terrible track record in successive ministries. She would probably appoint her friend Paul Ngobeni as minister of justice to deal with the mentally colonized judiciary, and Karl Niehaus as finance minister.

  • Joe Soap says:

    Sisulu manages to slip in a few bombshells clearly designed to allow the ANC to continue stealing, then goes on to say: “The current challenge is corruption, rape of our children, the education system, electricity, GBV and the economy”, which are caused by the ANC and its corruption. This one would not be good if we actually want improvement in the country as a whole and not just for the corrupt ANC.

  • Rory Macnamara says:

    perhaps Boesak, he not without blemish, should look at her record in Water and Sanitation and Human Settlements which was disastrous and the very people she wishes to Preside over were the main and remain the sufferers. NDZ has done very little with any portfolio she has had. one shudders to think what either of them would do in the Presidency. notwithstanding that the men in this position have fared no better and there are none upcoming who could successfully bring any semblance of order to the ANC and their positions. it is not about men and women, it is about incompetence in a political party and the people in it. simple! coming from a struggle does not mean one can run a country as the ANC have so successfully shown.

    • Keith Clubb says:

      At last. With Sisulu as a self styled Presidential contender along with the other Zuma, a spark of intelligence emerges from the cabinet men. Her total lack of competence and incredible sense of entitlement shines through.

    • John Smythe says:

      The trouble with the ANC is that they were liberation struggle organisation and not a political party. They’re two different things. As with all “liberation” organisations around the world, they liberate “the people” (Yeah! Right!), and then put their own into positions of influence and rape the country until its on its knees and blame it on the previous regime. Same old same old. The ANC is no different.

  • Hermann Funk says:

    Is Boesak smoking something? We all know that the men presently in charge are useless. This uselessness applies just as much to Sisulu and Dlamini Zuma.

  • Beyond Fedup says:

    God help this beloved, long-suffering and grossly abused SA if these two buffoons ever come to power. What is it in this country that the most compromised, useless, incompetent and downright stupid believe that they are entitled run this country!! Even a vacuous idiotic dandy like Gigaba (not to mention a key enabler of state capture, a liar and corrupt to the core) believes he should be the next Secretary General!! Sizulu is a miserable failure in all that she does, her record is atrocious and speaks for itself. NDZ is a dour, sour and hideous apparatchik who lends her name to the REThieves and state capturers. Under her watch as foreign minister in the Mbeki’s government, she was a leading proponent of quiet diplomacy, aka turning a blind eye when the 1st Zimbabwe election was stolen by Mugabe. The rest is history!! She was power hungry/drunk during the state of emergency, doing all possible to prolong it, in true state and centralist control a la Soviet Union. SA doesn’t need these two misfits and Boesak – you must be getting senile in your old age!

  • Heinrich Holt says:

    Who is Allan Boesak again?

    • John Smythe says:

      Don’t you remember? He’s that nowhere jailbird.

    • Rod H MacLeod says:

      Like all good ANC members, he dipped his fingers into, in his case, as he is a church minister (NGK), the funds he raised for his congregation. Bought him self a Mercedes, I think, and a couple of ladies of the night etc etc, then got convicted of fraud and theft, served less than a year of his 3 year sentence and was pardoned by his mate President Thabo Mbeki while sharing a glass or two or three of Johnny Walker blue. Good ‘ole boy in ANC ranks. Oh, and he was once arrested by the apartheid police – like Sisulu.

    • Anton van Niekerk says:

      He stole donor money and then disappeared off the scene… obviously quite senile by now.

  • Barrie Lewis says:

    True, Lindiwe, in the ANC you’ll certainly have a hard time finding any men who will support your cause. But outside the ANC you’ll find there are plenty of men open to having a woman leading our country. After all men both from the National Party and the ANC have totally screwed SA up.
    However, alas, I’m afraid you are not in the same league of Golda Meir, Indira Gandhi, Maggie Thatcher and the raft of female presidents in the world today.
    Just the support of that defrocked wolf in sheep’s clothing Boesak says it all.
    Nevertheless, give it your best shot. Go girl, go! Heartache awaits you until you do a good deal of soul searching. Some quiet meditation in the Sisulu archives would be a good place to start.

  • John Smythe says:

    I no issue with a female for SA. But the two incompetents vying for the position are not only RET aligned and so must be kept out of the mix altogether. But they also can’t even do their current jobs properly.

  • Gerrit Marais says:

    Kruger-Dunning effect must be the most prevalent factor within the ANC.

  • Malcolm McManus says:

    They know it is. Good luck in any endeavor to unseat any of them at the throne.

  • Cunningham Ngcukana says:

    This is quite an interesting piece but whether it has moved the needle in favour of women is another matter. One disagrees with Ndou as Lindiwe is correct that the ANC Conference is a conference of branches. Ndou has only to look at the contrasting history of two people in KZN Conferences. Mdumiseni Ntuli in the Conference in which he beat Super Zuma was not nominated by regions but from the floor. Zikalala was nominated by regions but was beaten by Duma who was nominated from the Conference floor. Zikalala did not even make the PEC but Ntuli despite losing made it to the PEC. Being nominated by regions or PECs at the ANC Conference may have weight but is not a guarantee. If you read the Mail and Guardian, despite banning of slates, we are informed of meetings of the CR22 to fill in his slate and there is no word from Kgalema or statement from one fellow from the ANC Electoral Committee. The Mail and Guardian article tells you that building a slate for Cyril may see him lose at Conference and not returning . Secondly, even if Mantashe is nominated by the Eastern Cape there is no path for him as well as Mbalula. That goes for Senzo who has no chances of making it as a Deputy. Levy Ndou as an analyst who have never been in organisations does not understand that Cyril has no constituency of his own. He is nominated by people who rightly or wrongly believe he can win elections for the ANC and is for renewal when history shows he is not. DD is not nominated but is a force.

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    Man, woman, black, white Indian, coloured 😀
    I’d vote for a donkey if I knew it was honest.

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