DURBAN - LIKE every South African, irrespective of the position or status one holds in society, everyone has the right to freedom of expression, which also implies that every citizen has the right to express his or her views, opinions, beliefs, and convictions freely in speech, writing, print or through any other methods.
However, this fundamental right enshrined in the Constitution became a subject of fierce attacks directed at Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu after she had expressed her disappointment on several issues, through an opinion piece published last week Friday.
Among the key issues raised by Sisulu, she questioned the rule of law and the Constitution, stating that it had done little or nothing for the victims of colonialism, but deepened the rise to “a sea of poverty”.
Taking place swipe at the judiciary, she said: “What we have instead witnessed under the supreme Constitution and the rule of law since 1994 has been co-option and invitations to political power brokers to the dinner table, whose job is to keep the masses quiet in their sufferance.”
Weighing in on the attacks, political analyst Professor Sipho Seepe stressed that Sisulu had every right to express her opinion about anything, including challenging the foundational pillars of democracy.
“She has every right to question whether the current dispensation serves the interests of the majority of our people. To that extent, she will find good company among the majority of our people that remain trapped in conditions of squalor.
“The issue at hand is about interest. Whose interests are being brought under scrutiny or threatened by issues that she raises? It comes as no surprise that she seems to have rattled those that have benefited materially from the post-1994 dispensation.
“It would seem these were always on the ready to attack. She has triggered a pack of wolves that have sought to diminish the importance of what she was trying to say.
“This happens to any black person that dares to go off the script that seems to have been written for us,” said Seepe.
He further emphasised that the Constitution was not the Holy Bible or Scripture.
“As a matter of fact questioning, it is also in keeping with its intent. Our democracy will only be secure when we exercise the right to be critical about anything,” he said.
Seepe added that people should also not be alarmists and must be prepared to be challenged. Furthermore, Sisulu was a minister in the government and not precluded from having the right of self-critique, said Seepe.
Independent political analyst Tumi Senokoane, said that Sisulu was facing a strong political machinery that had strong links with the owners of the media.
“The machinery is very well oiled by media and big business owners who control those currently in power. The current attacks on her will intensify, they will isolate and go after her as an individual. When that does not work, they will try by all means to link her with those who are in the RET faction and hail all sorts of insults at her,” explained Senokoane.
Senokoane felt that Sisulu was being intimidated and discouraged from contesting the presidency position in the upcoming 2022 ANC conference.
Approached for comment, Sisulu’s spokesperson Steve Motale said: “To some degree, yes these attacks are motivated by calls by some ANC regions and branches for Minister Sisulu to contest the presidency of the ANC later this year.”
Motale added: “There have also been loud calls for a female president to take over. Most of these attacks have everything to do with the ANC leadership contest.”
In a surprise move, Acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo held a press briefing on Wednesday responding to Sisulu’s article. Zondo said the article was rich in insults and poor in substance because it did not refer or speak to the issue warranting the attack on the judiciary.
“There is no analysis of anything in that article, it is just accusations and insults of the judiciary.
“This is disappointing because the remarks were not made by a young person, but a senior member of the ruling party, a senior member of Parliament, and a Cabinet minister.”