African National Congress (ANC) National Executive Member Tony Yengeni says Acting Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has overstepped the mark by responding to remarks made by Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu.
On Wednesday, Zondo came out guns blazing against an opinion piece by the Tourism Minister titled, “Hey Mzansi, have we seen justice?” in which she called for the complete overhaul of the judiciary, criticising black judges and the Constitution.
In an exclusive interview with the SABC, Yengeni said Sisulu had the right, like any South African, to express her view and is protected by the Constitution of the country.
“I think that Lindiwe Sisulu, as a citizen of this country, has the right to express her views on any subject that is on the table. Lindiwe Sisulu is a citizen of this country before she is a Member of Parliament before she’s a Minister and therefore she enjoys all the rights enshrined in that Constitution. Freedom of speech is a right that she enjoys just like me and you. It’s even enshrined and protected by the Bill of Rights so no one, no one, including Zondo can stop her from speaking her mind. It’s a Constitutional right that she fought for herself and all of us fought for those rights, so this notion that she insulted the judges is neither here nor there because she raises very sharply an issue that has been raised before.”
SABC News Political Editor Mzwandile Mbeje in conversation with ANC NEC Member Tony Yengeni:
Parties in Parliament weigh in on the matter
Political parties in Parliament have also reacted. African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) says while the judiciary is not above criticism, it finds Sisulu’s remarks inappropriate.
The party says Zondo did the right thing by defending the judiciary against unsubstantiated allegations.
“The ACDP believes that the comments made by Minister Sisulu were highly inappropriate. While the judiciary is not above criticism, we believe that these comments were indeed insulting and Acting Chief Justice Zondo responded correctly to protect the independence of the judiciary from unsubstantiated allegations,” said ACDP Member of Parliament Steve Swart.
The Congress of the People (COPE) has responded with a call for President Cyril Ramaphosa to sack Sisulu. COPE spokesperson Dennis Bloem says Zondo and the entire judiciary need the country’s support.
“We know that this attack is part of the Nkandla agenda, the imprisonment of Jacob Zuma and the Zondo Commission’s report is at the heart of Lindiwe Sisulu’s attack, the main target is Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. This Zuma group wants to disrupt the implementation of Zondo’s findings and recommendations. We call upon President Ramaphosa to fire Lindiwe Sisulu, she is an embarrassment not only to the government but the entire country.”
Another party in Parliament, Al Jama-ah has meanwhile thrown its weight behind Sisulu. The party says Sisulu owes nobody any apology for her views on the judiciary and black judges.
“We support Minister Sisulu’s position and we feel that she does not have to apologise and it is sad that the cabinet has distanced itself from African jurisprudence while they sing African solutions to African problems,” says the party’s Ganief Hendricks.
There are varying views on the matter: