Lindiwe Sisulu vows to continue her militant fight in spite of Cabinet sacking

Former Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu during an interview with The Star Editor Sifiso Mahlangu. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

Former Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu during an interview with The Star Editor Sifiso Mahlangu. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Mar 9, 2023


Johannesburg - Even without a Cabinet post, former minister Lindiwe Sisulu has promised to remain grounded in the fight against corruption, maladministration, and radical economic transformation.

These are the views of Sisulu’s adviser, Mphumzi Mdekazi, who shared some of Sisulu’s feelings after her axing on Monday following a delayed Cabinet reshuffle by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

In the Cabinet reshuffle announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday, Patricia De Lille was moved from the Public Works and Infrastructure portfolio to Tourism, replacing Sisulu, who took over the position in 2021.

The reshuffle was a long time coming for axed Sisulu, who had been earmarked for the axe long before the reshuffle was on the cards.

Over the past few months leading up to the reshuffle, Sisulu has, on numerous occasions, broken ranks with President Ramaphosa, and there have been calls for Ramaphosa to get rid of her following her controversial opinion piece against the judiciary in 2022.

Speaking to The Star, Mdekazi said Sisulu had expected her axing after she spoke out against the Phala Phala farm matter as well as her controversial opinion piece calling for the Constitution to be amended.

“We were expecting it. In fact, it was taking unnecessary longer to happen; remember, she once publicly indicated that it’s difficult to serve under someone who lacks integrity and credibility. Judge Ngcobo’s Report and the Sars outcome are just a few examples among many that are still coming to vindicate her from many public institutions, which include doing private business while occupying public office. These were some of the points of divergence. You will recall that she pioneered the bill that prohibited all public servants from doing business, irrespective of their levels in public office,“ Mdekazi said.

Mdekazi said when Sisulu received a call from ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula, informing her of her fate, she was not at all shaken as the writing had been on the wall for a long time.

"When she received a call from the SG, she was not bothered. She just said okay," he said.

With speculation rife about her future now that she does not have a full-time job, Mdekazi says Sisulu will, in a matter of time, make her decisions known to the public, adding that they are considering a few options available to her.

“At the right time, she will make necessary announcements as there have been previous offers from academic institutions, the private sector, international organisations, etc,“ he said.

Even though Sisulu has been part of the Cabinet for over two decades, Mdekazi says she has become used to the uncertainty of serving in a Cabinet full of reshuffles and reconfigurations of portfolios, adding that some of these deployments took away from her as she was about to clean some of the departments she was heading.

“Some of the highlights include her stint in the Department of Water and Sanitation, where she was removed when she was closing the net on all corrupt activities related to financial expenditures and certain behaviours. I am sure you know her allergies towards corruption, concealment, greed, and maladministration. Those are things she always refuses to co-exist with because, to her, that’s un-ANC,“ he said.

Mdekazi was coy on some of the alliances brewing behind the scenes, choosing to only say: “From now onwards, she will continue to serve the ANC with all her being, and where necessary, she will be vociferous on issues of corruption and greed.

“She is comfortable now, having all the time to even focus on her book, which is under way, on how she first met the then-Mr Ramaphosa, who was an intern in a particular white legal firm when she came out of jail, and what were his first words and reaction about the ANC he leads today when he saw her as a younger woman fighting for freedom at the time,“ he said.

The Star