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Lindiwe Sisulu restates stance judiciary has become ‘tool’ for politicians, individuals with deep pockets

Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jun 24, 2022


Tshwarelo Hunter Mogakane

Pretoria - Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has boldly repeated her stance that the judiciary has become a tool for politicians and individuals with deep pockets.

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Not backing down on the controversial opinion piece that she penned in January, Sisulu went on to say that while judges may have come from the working class, their consciousness had changed.

The minister, who is also a member of the ANC national executive committee, was giving a keynote address at a Youth Day celebration event held at Unisa this week, where she was invited to explain her January article.

“This piece elucidated divergent views and caused a political tsunami, press conferences, articles and media appearances by professors, ex-judges, media personalities, politicians, ANC veterans, commentators, and men and women of letters.

“Even the president of the Republic got involved. I met with the president on this matter, the outcome of which is now public knowledge.

“What was most astonishing was to watch the then Acting Chief Justice (Raymond Zondo) taking 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.

“To my horror, because I have great respect for all these eminent judges. But was this accusation true or was it just a misinterpretation of the English language? Or misreading of points of fact?” she said.

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Sisulu said she was happy that Unisa didn’t join the bandwagon against the points she had raised.

“Of all the responses to the article I wrote, I am grateful to the law faculty here that has invited me to come and discuss those matters that were raised in my article.

“When the furore arose from all around I was certain that with all the negativity and deliberate misinterpretation that the backlash was largely a political one.

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“I’m certain the article flew right over the likes of Cosatu’s leaders, and I was quite certain that a whole lot of other people were whipped up to respond. And they were vulgar,” she said.

During her keynote address, the minister touched on the commercialisation of justice. “Politics is increasingly penetrating the law, and money has become a yardstick in determining access to justice, leaving a majority of our people not fully benefiting from what the law provides,” Sisulu said.

“A measure of justice is how it caters for the most vulnerable, the poor, the ones who are most likely to get the rough end of the stick, because they cannot get the kind of defence that money buys. Instead of the judiciary being the last line of defence for the poor, evidence suggests it may be in cahoots with the elite against the very people it should be defending.”

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The minister added that in any society experiencing the rise of elites, politicians and corporates seemed to enjoy special favours.

“The bigger the corporates, the bigger the class in society, the bigger the favours… What we are seeing is the politicisation of the judiciary where you are creating fertile ground for judges to have favourites within the political space, which is what we should be moving away from.

“There should be just the Constitution and the world. The Constitution should not be used to advance individuals politically but rather the advancement of jurisprudence.

“It is these challenges in the judiciary that are threatening the country’s social cohesion. What is left is a shattering sense of dismay at the lack of accountability and inability to take responsibility, the atmosphere of impunity and transparent selectivity in who and what is judged and who and what are above the law.

“This presents South Africa with the most treacherous political dilemma: the politics of the lesser evil. That is a precarious place to find ourselves in. The dismay is real because we are realising that the problem is not simply persons,” she said.

Sisulu said paying respects to the brave young people who lost their lives in June 1976 should be accompanied by honesty.

Sisulu is tipped as a front runner to challenge President Cyril Ramaphosa at the ANC’s elective conference in December.

Pretoria News