Minister of Human Settlements Lindiwe Sisulu File picture: Phando Jikelo/ANA Pictures
The ANC is not for sale. The article in The Sunday Independent (July 29) by Clyde Ramalaine under the headline "Sisulu’s presidency campaign raises a number of questions" could be mistaken for an objective attempt at a critical analysis of the capability of Minister Lindiwe Sisulu were it not riddled with inaccuracies, exaggerations and half-truths.

Many who know Sisulu and have observed her performance in her various deployments would have dismissed most of the concerns contained in the article.

For the sake of the few who might be misled, it is important for Ramalaine’s so-called questions not to be left unchallenged.

We can dispense with the myth that Sisulu only recently found positive adulation from the public and the media, mainly because she has made her intentions known that she is willing to serve the ANC in any capacity members believe she is most suitable.

It is a truism that Sisulu has unquestionable credentials and, as Ramalaine correctly observes, she has served the country with distinction - not only during the liberation Struggle but also as a long-serving ANC national executive council member, a legislature member since 1994, an executive member since 1996 and a cabinet member since 2001.

Even her worst critics are quick to acknowledge that not once was she fired or found wanting.

Therefore it is disingenuous of Ramalaine to find it odd that Sisulu has come out strongly in support of a return to the true values that earned the ANC the support of most South Africans and many others around the globe.

For her to hold on to the belief that past generations of leaders have handed this generation a healthy movement and thus it is incumbent on leaders to pass on a healthy ANC to future generations of leaders, is refreshing and should be welcomed.

The ANC prides itself on the fact that its actions are guided solely by the highest standard of moral values and solid principles that were crystallised in the Freedom Charter. It is incomprehensible that anyone can think it odd when a leader finds it alien when there is a tendency by some to be sucked into greed and corruption, where money and power are more important than political ideology and political consciousness.

Ramalaine questions Sisulu’s performance as Minister of Human Settlements and bemoans the fact that she has done little to eradicate apartheid spatial planning and accuses her department of entrenching these. In his preoccupation to belittle, the strides made in rebuilding our country, since 1994 are neglected.

It is understandable that perhaps taking a rational and an objective perspective on complex, dynamic and intricate matters such as housing and human settlements development can escape even the best of us.

The Constitutional Court, in the seminal Grootboom judgment on socio-economic rights and housing, noted the following in relation to the government's efforts: “In support of their contention that they had complied with the obligation imposed upon them by section 26, the appellants placed evidence before this court of the legislative and other measures they had adopted.

"There is in place both national and provincial legislation concerned with housing. It was explained that in 1994 the state inherited fragmented housing arrangements which involved 13 statutory housing funds, seven ministries and housing departments, more than 20 subsidy systems and more than 60 national and regional parastatals operating on a racial basis. These have been rationalised.

"The National Housing Act provides a framework which establishes the responsibilities and functions of each sphere of the government with regard to housing. The responsibility for implementation is generally given to the provinces. Provinces in turn have assigned certain implementation functions to local government structures.

"All spheres of the government are involved in housing delivery and the budget allocated by the national government appears to be substantial. There is a single housing policy and a subsidy system that targets low-income earners, regardless of race.

"The white paper on housing aims to stabilise the housing environment, establish institutional arrangements, protect consumers, rationalise institutional capacity within a sustainable long-term framework, facilitate the speedy release and servicing of land and co-ordinate and integrate the public sector investment in housing. In addition, various schemes are in place involving public/private partnerships aimed at ensuring that housing provision is effectively financed.”

The eradication of the socio-economic ills from our past, within the human settlements and housing sector, is therefore premised on the fact that successful transformational outcomes will be achieved over the medium to long term. Thus the strong legislative and policy foundations laid by Joe Slovo, as the first democratic minister of housing, was built upon by subsequent ministers including Sisulu.

During her tenure as minister for example, there was a substantial ramping up of the implementation of housing delivery.

The period also heralded a period of intense planning, funding and implementation of integrated human settlements developments.

Sisulu has made it clear that she is committed to improving the economic participation of women and youth in the housing and human settlements delivery chain. Notwithstanding the fact that most contractors employed in the housing delivery process are black, a ministerial directive has been issued to ensure that the entire human settlements and housing value chain be transformed in terms of economic benefit and participation.

This is particularly the case in the material supply chain, which is untransformed. The minister, with the Human Settlements MECs, has directed that a minimum of 30% of women and 10% of youth be allocated work within the delivery value chain.

The government acknowledges that a lot needs to be done to achieve dignity for our people, but any argument that purports to say nothing has been achieved is naive. Challenges of proper human settlements will always be linked to land availability, the normalisation of the property finance sector, improving the provision of basic services and ensuring the security of tenure of poor households, all of which require a radical socio-economic transformation agenda.

The DA and a few media outlets have been suspiciously persistent in peddling false accusations that under her leadership the department spent R10million on frivolity gifts and flowers, a claim which Ramalaine recklessly regurgitates, despite repeated statements from the department that the spending took place in the 2013/14 financial year when she was not the political head of the department.

For a well-read columnist to continue to spread this lie can only be out of malice and mischief, or perhaps it is a belief in Joseph Goebbels’s adage: "If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth."

As we approach the ANC elective conference in December, we are aware that some will peddle falsehoods to try to tarnish Sisulu’s credibility. Our focus, however, is clear. We will not be deterred from our goal to call for a renewal of the ANC and for a return to the values that brought hope of a better life to our people. We are determined to ensure we emerge from this conference with an ANC that is not crushed by personal ambitions, corruption, nefarious and treacherous purposes made behind the backs of the people.

* Nkosi is Lindiwe Sisulu's campaign spokesperson.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

The Sunday Independent