Lindiwe Sisulu: ‘It’s a must’

December 5, 2017

AGE: 63

GOVERNMENT EXPERIENCE:  Sisulu is currently the minister of human settlements, a department familiar to her as she started her career in government in 1996 as the deputy minister in the department. In 2001 to 2004 she served as minister of Intelligence. In 2009, President Jacob Zuma appointed her minister of defence and military veterans. She went on to serve in the ministry of public service and administration

UPSIDE: Sisulu is seen by some as quintessential ANC, being a child of the party’s struggle icons, Walter and Albertina Sisulu. She also spent time in exile and served in the ANC’s armed wing, Umkhonto We Sizwe.

She has campaigned on an anti-corruption message, calling for all public officials publicly accused of corruption, including Zuma, to face corruption charges.

Sisulu is also seen as an alternative for those not keen on either Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa or former African Union Commission chairperson, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. Those seeking to see her lead the party also believe she would be able to unite the ANC ahead of the 2019 general elections.

DOWNSIDE: She has apologised for being part of the slate politics that saw Zuma elected president in 2007 and 2012.

Her comments, including insults to the current ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe and pot-shots at Ramaphosa’s campaign has resulted in some lobbying for Ramaphosa to ditch her.

Ramaphosa has since indicated that he does not want her as his deputy, calling on members to choose science and technology minister and ANC NEC member, Naledi Pandoor, instead.

However she has emerged as the deputy preferred by Gauteng and Western Cape so far.

Sisulu is seen as brave for putting her hand up as another female hopeful that the ANC should consider for its presidency. However, this has pitted her against the ANC Women’s League, who has endorsed Dlamini-Zuma as its preferred candidate.

She has been insulted by some claiming she thinks she’s owed the party’s presidency because she is perceived to be ANC “royalty” because of her family’s background and role in the liberation movement.

Her campaign, which uses the slogan, “It’s a must”, has also been criticised for lacking clarity.

CONTROVERSIES: Although she says she is running a clean campaign and is seen as one of the most credible leaders in the ANC, she has been at the heart of some controversies throughout her many years in governance. These include an N2 Gateway project where residents from the Joe Slovo informal settlement in Cape Town refused to be relocated to Delft in order to make way for government bond and free houses. Sisulu was criticised for threatening residents by saying if they refused to co-operate they would be completely removed from the housing waiting lists. She was also accused of refusing to directly meet with residents over the project.

She has further been accused of defending Zuma several times in the past, including when then Public Protector Thuli Madonsela released her report into upgrades at the president’s private home. Sisulu, who questioned the report’s legitimacy, is also reported to have defended Zuma’s right to stay on as president in spite of growing calls for him to step down and instead blamed the opposition and media.

ON RET: Sisulu has maintained that it is not just economic transformation that South Africa requires but social transformation as well. She told journalists in the lead up to the ANC’s policy conference in June that social transformation was seen as secondary to economic transformation when, in fact, it was a first generation right and the “underbelly” of South Africa’s Freedom Charter.

“We would like at all times that our people understand that it’s radical socio-economic transformation that we agreed to at the 53rd congress of the ANC,” said Sisulu.

In sharing more of her thoughts on the economy during her campaign for ANC leadership she said the ANC needed to create more black capitalists in order to eradicate high levels of poverty and unemployment. She did, however, raise some concern that this could result in black monopoly capital replacing white monopoly capital.

Sisulu also said building capital in order to redistribute state resources would be justifiable in her eyes.

ON LAND: Although Sisulu has been quick to remind people that the question of land was still under discussions as the ANC was undecided on it, she has said she believed expropriation would allow for better spatial planning and allow cities to be more representative of the country’s demographics.

The human settlements minister said government was conducting an audit on unused land, explaining that it was considering expropriating unused land that did not belong to government.

On STATE CAPTURE: The human settlements minister has said the ANC should expedite dealing with the damning revelations around allegations of state capture, which have its President Jacob Zuma and the Gupta family as the main players.

“With regards to the issue of the Gupta leaks, the ANC disciplinary committee must look into it before we hand it over to the court,” she has previously said.

Sisulu also advocated for the governing party’s to discipline its president for his many scandals which have caused tensions in the ANC and brought the party into disrepute.

STATE OF ANC: Sisulu has expressed a desire for the party’s former leaders to play a more prominent role in the party. This includes bringing back the country’s past presidents, Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe. She suggested that this could help steer the party, which is “losing moral and ideological capacity”.

Sisulu has included EFF leader Julius Malema as someone she would try to convince to swap his red beret back to the green, black and gold.

As part of her “It’s a must” campaign, she has been vocal about returning the ANC to its former glory, part of which she believes is owning up to mistakes which have been committed by the party during the national elective conference. She also wants to see the ANC moving towards correcting those mistakes.

(Photo credit: Gallo Images / Foto24 / Lerato Maduna)