Minister Lindiwe Sisulu was honoured with the Humanity and Social Cohesion Award at a mass gathering of the Hellenic, Italian and Portuguese Communities in Johannesburg on Friday evening. Picture: Dirco

Johannesburg - Minister Lindiwe Sisulu was honoured with the Humanity and Social Cohesion Award at a mass gathering of the Hellenic, Italian and Portuguese Communities in Johannesburg on Friday evening. 

According to the HIP Alliance Chairman Stavros Nicolaou, Sisulu earned the award given her stance on xenophobic and gender violence, her humanitarian intervention in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, and her promotion of a human rights foreign policy. 

“I accept this award on behalf of all the woman of South Africa and Africa,” Sisulu said to a crowd of hundreds, which included heads of missions from over 40 countries.

Sisulu also used the opportunity to express solidarity with Caster Semenya following her 800-metre win at the IAAF Diamond League in Doha on Friday.

"We support Caster and will fight for her all the way. This is a human rights issue, and the IAAF is interfering with Semenya's natural right. No court can judge what is given to a human being in terms of their natural abilities. We are going to fight for her because this is unjust and racist, and at the end of the day it is the UN that is the highest arbiter on human rights," Sisulu said. 

It was Semenya’s 30th consecutive victory on the international stage which came on the heels of the CAS ruling and the impending implementation of the discriminatory IAAF rules. Semenya has bluntly refused to adhere to the ruling by taking medication in order to reduce the testosterone levels in her body, but insists she will run in Doha later this year to defend her title, putting her on a collision course with the IAAF.

It was Sisulu who had recently brought Semenya’s discrimination case to the UN Human Rights Council. South Africa tabled a resolution at the Council defending Semenya’s right to participate in sport, calling for the elimination of discrimination against women and girls in sport, giving significant weight from a human rights perspective to Semenya’s case. Sisulu scored a major victory when the Council adopted the resolution, making it the first time that the human rights system holds the international sports associations to account for their obligations under international human rights law.  

“The international community has a duty to protect and defend the rights of Caster Semenya and other female athletes like her across the world, based on the premise that their human rights are being violated. The international campaign to preserve Caster’s right to participate in global sports is a struggle for all women in the world against discrimination, sexism, and patriarchy,” Sisulu said.

The HIP Alliance which bestowed the Humanity award on Sisulu also praised her unwavering stand against corruption. “Sisulu was one of the first Ministers of Public Administration to put forward an anti-corruption bill in cabinet, which speaks volumes for her principled stance against state capture and corruption, which is a critical element to achieving President Ramaphosa's investment drive," Nicolaou said.

The BRICS Business Council, Business Unity South Africa, and the Black Business Council all openly supported the Minister's anti-corruption drive. Representatives of the three groups expressed their confidence in the Minister for her firm stand against corruption, and pleaded with her to remain firm as they believe this is key in achieving the President’s investment drive. Sisulu was characterized as an important member of the future cabinet, especially around clean governance.

“We are determined to recapture the state and put it into the hands of the people, and recreate the country that Mandela bequeathed to us,” Sisulu told the audience, “with President Cyril Ramaphosa we have begun the important work of renewal, to rid our organisation and our country of fraud, corruption and malfeasance that threatened to eat into our social fabric in the recent past. We need all of you to strengthen the hand of President Cyril Ramaphosa in this mammoth task of renewal by voting ANC next week so that we don’t reverse the process that has already started,” Sisulu said.

* Shannon Ebrahim is the Group Foreign Editor