Cape Town - Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has hit back at the president's media team, claiming they misrepresented her meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa.
In a statement issued on Friday morning, Sisulu said she respected the Office of the Presidency and the president but was “troubled” by the media team’s “deliberately mischievous” actions.
Sisulu confirmed that she met Ramaphosa on Wednesday, at his request, and he “expressed discomfort with a particular aspect” of her opinion piece published two weeks ago.
She said the president took issue with her expression relating to the judiciary and he proposed that a third person or intermediary assist the particular and solitary line he found an “offensive expression”.
“We had a mature and sensible meeting and thus concluded on good terms. In fact, yesterday (Thursday) the President called me and read the specific sentence as redesigned that he had found offensive. We ended our discussion on an amicable base,” Sisulu said.
She said that as was an accepted and lifelong practice, she respected the Office of the Presidency and the president. However, she wanted to place on record that she was troubled “that the president's media team was deliberately mischievous”.
“… at no point in the conversation was (the minister) firstly admonished or secondly expressed regrets resulting in agreeing to withdraw or apologise for her article, but agreed to reconsider the particular line relating to the judiciary which the president had raised issue with and was to share with her,” read the statement issued by Sisulu’s spokesperson, Steve Motale.
Sisulu’s response came on the back of a strained tit-for-tat war of words between Ramaphosa and Sisulu on Thursday evening.
The Presidency issued a statement that Ramaphosa had “specifically admonished the minister” about her attack on the judiciary and suggested that Sisulu had retracted her “unsubstantiated, hurtful comments” about the judiciary.
“Minister Sisulu conceded that her words were inappropriate. Minister Sisulu retracts this statement and affirms her support for the judiciary,” the Presidency said on Thursday. But Sisulu’s quick response to the released statement branded Ramaphosa a liar. She categorically disowned the statement in its entirety “as a misrepresentation of the said meeting I had with the president”.
Then, later on Thursday evening, Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele issued a second statement, saying that the Presidency stood by its statement, and it had nothing further to add.