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Ramaphosa and Sisulu in tit-for-tat over controversial letter on judiciary

President Cyril Ramaphosa and Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu are in embroiled in tit-for-tat spat over whether Sisulu apologised for her controversial letter on the judiciary.

President Cyril Ramaphosa and Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu are in embroiled in tit-for-tat spat over whether Sisulu apologised for her controversial letter on the judiciary.

Published Jan 21, 2022

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PRETORIA – President Cyril Ramaphosa and Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu are in embroiled in a tit-for-tat spat over whether Sisulu apologised for her controversial letter on the judiciary.

After a week of raucous debate on social media and in the pages of newspapers, the presidency last night issued a statement stating that Ramaphosa had “specifically admonished the Minister” about her attack on the judiciary and suggested that Sisulu had retracted her “unsubstantiated, hurtful comments” on the judiciary.

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However Sisulu hit back shortly after the presidency statement disavowing apologising over her comments and promised to issue a full statement later.

In statement, sent about 7pm last night, the presidency quoted Sisulu’s opinion piece in which she said: “Today, in the high echelons of our judicial system are those mentally colonised Africans, who have settled with the world view and mindset of those who have dispossessed their ancestors.

“They are only too happy to lick the spittle of those who falsely claim superiority.

“The lack of confidence that permeates their rulings against their own speaks very loudly, while others, secure in their agenda, clap behind closed doors.”

The Presidency stated that Sisulu had seen the inappropriateness of her remarks published earlier this month.

“Minister Sisulu conceded that her words were inappropriate. Minister Sisulu retracts this statement and affirms her support for the judiciary,” the Presidency said.

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The Presidency went on to quote Sisulu in her purported apology: “I accept that my column has levelled against the judiciary and African judges in particular unsubstantiated, gratuitous and deeply hurtful comments.”

“I retract unequivocally my hurtful comments. I recognise that many women and men judges past and present have served their country in the judiciary with dedication and patriotism and some have made sterling sacrifices in the fight against apartheid and colonialism.

“I apologise for and regret the hurt I have caused the judiciary.”

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While that Union Buildings’ statement began to trend on social media, Sisulu quickly responded in a terse press statement which sent the social media platforms into a tailspin.

Sisulu said: “I have just been informed of a media alert issued by the Presidency that apparently claims that I Lindiwe N Sisulu retracted my original expression.

“I wish to categorically disown this statement in its entirety as a misrepresentation of the said meeting I had with the president. The president and I met on Wednesday at 9pm at his house.”

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Sisulu said in that Wednesday night meeting, Ramaphosa had shared his challenge with one aspect of the article on the judges.

“The president proposed an intermediary that would focus on the one line about the judges to resolve that. I awaited such to be communicated which would do nothing to the entire article,” the Tourism Minister said.

“Under no circumstances did I commit to any retraction or apology since I stand by what I penned.”

Sisulu added: “The content of the president's statement in its current form is unfortunate as it is not what we agreed on. In this regard, I wish to distance myself from such,” she said, adding that she would issue a “full statement” in the next 24 hours.

Shortly after Sisulu issued her statement the Minister in the Presidency Mondli Gungubele issued a second terse statement that said: “The Presidency stands by its statement earlier this evening, 20 January 2022, on a discussion between President Cyril Ramaphosa and Minister of Tourism Ms Lindiwe Sisulu,” Gungubele said.

“The Presidency has nothing to add to the earlier statement.”

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