'I owe you no apology': Mbalula denies calling Lindiwe Sisulu a 'criminal'

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula criticised Lindiwe Sisulu for making 'unfounded allegations' against him.
Transport minister Fikile Mbalula criticised Lindiwe Sisulu for making 'unfounded allegations' against him.
Image: Esa Alexander

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula has reignited his quarrel with human settlements, water and sanitation minister Lindiwe Sisulu after she made an official complaint against him to ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule.

On Sunday, Mbalula criticised Sisulu for not affording him a “basic courtesy” of clarifying his Twitter rant last week.

On March 8, Mbalula launched an attack against former president Jacob Zuma after Sisulu shared a picture of herself and the other candidates who vied for the ANC presidency in December 2017. Those pictured with Sisulu included Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Cyril Ramaphosa, Jeff Radebe, Zweli Mkhize, Baleka Mbete and Zuma.

In a now-deleted tweet, Mbalula said Zuma organised the dinner with a firm belief that his ex-wife Dlamini-Zuma would win the 2017 election.

“We all got shocked. Long live David Mabuza for saving us from this monarchy disaster! Viva Dabede,” he said.

In her defence, Sisulu told Mbalula that she shared the picture for reminiscing purposes and would not entertain other interpretations of it. “The aim of this picture was to show what a beautiful night we had as the presidential hopefuls in 2017,” she said.

At the weekend, Sisulu lodged a complaint against Mbalula, saying he labelled her a “criminal”.

According to her complaint that was circulated on social media, Sisulu said Mbalula’s rant showed an “uncomradely attitude and was clearly sexist”.

“The last thing I expected was an irresponsible response from an NWC [ANC national working committee] comrade. I thought it was a most inappropriate way of responding to my tweet and lowered the dignity and integrity of the ANC in the public domain. It was exceedingly unseemly,” she said.

Sisulu said the labelling of “criminal” not only amounted to crimen injuria but also a violation of the ANC’s social media policy, which states that “any social media posting must be legal, ethical and respectful at all times”.

“I appeal and request the disciplinary committee to engage comrade Mbalula in this matter. If he was not responding to me, he would have clarified the matter immediately. Enough time has lapsed for him to clarify his comments,” Sisulu said.

“The deputy SG noted that he responded to me and two others, without correcting it.”

Responding to the claims, Mbalula denied calling Sisulu a “criminal”, saying Sisulu mistook a tweet meant for a user with the handle @cuzini.

This could not be immediately verified as some of Mbalula's tweets regarding the picture were deleted at the height of the exchange.

Mbalula also pointed out that one of his now-deleted tweets about “political prostitute” was not addressed to Sisulu.

“The comments that you clearly mistook as a reference to you were a response to an individual, a certain Mgcini Mchunu, with a Twitter handle @cuzini, who called me a political prostitute,” he said.

“My reference to criminals was obviously a reference to his tweet. The only reference to you is a question I posed, asking how much did you spend on the campaign, a question you never responded to.

“You will know that the context of my question to you on the funding is premised on you being an outspoken proponent of the calls for the CR17 bank accounts to be investigated.

“It is therefore my considered view that I owe you no apology, as the basis of your complaint is based on the opportunistic reading of my tweet and the comments on my timeline,” Mbalula said.

Mbalula told Sisulu that she should have come directly to him before making “unfounded allegations against myself” to Magashule.


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