Sisulu slams ‘venomous’ Cyril backers

With the ANC national elective conference approaching, Lindiwe Sisulu says she wants to bring  morality and intellectual capacity back to the party. (Elizabeth Sejake/Rapport/Gallo Images)

With the ANC national elective conference approaching, Lindiwe Sisulu says she wants to bring morality and intellectual capacity back to the party. (Elizabeth Sejake/Rapport/Gallo Images)

ANC presidential hopeful Lindiwe Sisulu has accused deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa’s supporters of ulterior motives after some pushed for her to be dropped from his slate as his potential deputy.

This statement is bound to add fuel to the firestorm of criticism she faced after reportedly questioning ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe’s struggle credentials last month.

She told the Mail & Guardian in an interview on Thursday that she did not need to be aided by Ramaphosa to be elected as one of the ANC’s top six officials because she was a candidate in her own right.

“They [Ramaphosa’s supporters] are free to do as they please. All I want is the best for the ANC. If Cyril and [ANC treasurer] Zweli Mkhize — two men — are going to be the best for the ANC and gender parity, let it be so,” Sisulu said.

Nominations by several ANC branches throughout the country showed that many branches that supported Ramaphosa as a candidate for ANC president had also nominated Mkhize as his deputy.

Sisulu, the human settlements minister, said she was disappointed that some within the Ramaphosa camp had misinterpreted her reaction to Mantashe’s statement that the ANC would face a crisis if Ramaphosa did not succeed President Jacob Zuma as ANC president.

“All I said was that, as the secretary general of the ANC, you ought to be above the fray. Even if you have a personal choice to make, while he is running the conference he [Mantashe] needed to [exercise] some objectivity.

“Secondly, I was objecting to the fact that he [Mantashe] was saying it was going to be very rough in December and a woman can’t cope. It [Mantashe’s statement] said to me that there is a subliminal patriarchal tendency in an ANC which purports to be nonsexist. What was important to me was that I am one of the candidates. I expressed myself as one of the candidates and not as Cyril’s [potential] deputy,” said Sisulu.

She told the M&G that the Ramaphosa camp’s decision to put her on their list as deputy president impacted negatively on her campaign to be the next ANC leader.

“I am running on my own slate and in my own slate Cyril is my deputy, in the same way that he assumes that I would have been his deputy. It is as though somebody [thinks he/she] was doing me a favour. They would have put that name [Sisulu] there, having considered what benefits they get out of myself.

“In my own right, all my life I have served the ANC. I have accumulated all this information and knowledge. 
I worked very hard. I was not banking on somebody bailing me out,” Sisulu said.

She would support anyone who was elected to the top position in December, she said.

“The venomous [attitude that is happening now] ought not to be happening in the ANC. It is the kind of venom I am getting from Cyril’s camp. Whoever is planting that venom must have an ulterior motive.

“It’s fine. For me, the ANC must win. The most important thing is: Who is it that will stand up for all South Africans and be able to take the ANC to a decisive win in 2019? That, for me, is the most deciding factor,” said Sisulu.

If elected ANC president, one of her first priorities would be to bring back former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe to play an active role. She would also convince Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema to return to the ANC fold, she said.

“Comrade Kgalema was badly treated at the [ANC] conference [in 2012]. Comrade Thabo Mbeki was very humiliated at the [ANC] conference [in Polokwane] in 2007. I value their contribution. Comrade Thabo is an intellectual of note. Comrade Kgalema is a moralist of note. We want those people. I think we owe it to them to extend a hand and say: ‘It should not have been like that.’

“We are losing intellectual capacity. We are losing moral capacity. We are losing ideological capacity. I want those people back because they belong. The ANC does not belong to only one group of people. It belongs to all South Africans,” Sisulu said.

If elected, she has pledged to form a presidential council comprising all former presidents, including Zuma.

“We are losing all that accumulated experience and knowledge. These would be the people that the president can call upon and say: ‘We are facing a nuclear problem; how do I resolve it? Which is the best energy mix we can get?’ Or: ‘I am facing #FeesMustFall protests or revolt from civil society.’

“If Comrade Thabo Mbeki had had a presidential advisory team, some of the issues around HIV/Aids would have been [dealt with] by a collective,” Sisulu said. 

Matuma Letsoalo

Matuma Letsoalo

Matuma Letsoalo is the political editor of the Mail & Guardian. He joined the newspaper in 2003 and has won numerous awards since then, including the regional award for Vodacom Journalist of the Year in the economics and finance category in 2015, SA Journalist of the Year in 2011, the Mondi Shanduka SA Story of the Year award in 2008 and CNN African Journalist of the Year – MKO Abiola Print Journalism in 2004. Read more from Matuma Letsoalo

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