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Pule Mabe dismisses suggestions exchange between Ramaphosa and Sisulu was a ‘public spat’

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe would not confirm whether there have been calls by party officials to discipline tourism minister Lindiwe Sisulu. File photo.
ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe would not confirm whether there have been calls by party officials to discipline tourism minister Lindiwe Sisulu. File photo.
Image: ANTONIO MUCHAVE

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe says there is no tension between tourism minister Lindiwe Sisulu and President Cyril Ramaphosa.

He blamed the media for pushing a “narrative” that implies a strained relationship.

Ramaphosa and Sisulu engaged in a back and forth after the presidency claimed Sisulu was “admonished” by the president for her controversial column two weeks ago in which she criticised the constitution, judiciary and politicians.

In her column titled “Hi Mzansi, have we seen justice?” Sisulu suggested black judges are “mentally colonised Africans who have settled with the world view and mindset of those who have dispossessed their ancestors”.

The presidency said the minister apologised and retracted her “unsubstantiated, hurtful comments” about the judiciary.

However, Sisulu issued a statement to the contrary, saying during the meeting with the president in Cape Town, Ramaphosa only shared a challenge with one aspect of the letter regarding the judiciary. 

She denied saying she would retract the article and distanced herself from claims made by the presidency. 

The issue took an interesting turn when the presidency said it would not provide additional comment, as it stood by its claims regarding the minister’s “apology”.

In a SABC interview on Sunday, Mabe said the exchange between Sisulu and Ramaphosa should not be interpreted as a spat between the two senior ANC members. 

“We will not speak into a media narrative that suggests a spat. We do not believe there was a public spat. I am going to leave the media to make its own interpretations of what would have happened out there,” said Mabe.

He would not confirm whether there have been calls by ANC officials to discipline Sisulu, saying the party could not have spent two days of its lekgotla meeting discussing the minister’s conduct.

It is not my job as the national spokesperson of the ANC to validate whispers. I don’t do that

“It is not my job as the national spokesperson of the ANC to validate whispers. I don’t do that. There is no way a self-respecting organisation like the ANC will spend two days discussing an individual NEC member. We have a lot of things [to address]. People of SA are looking for jobs,” he said. 

During his closing address after the lekgotla, Ramaphosa, without naming the minister, distanced the ANC from negative remarks made against the constitution. 

“Counter-revolution is wearing a different countenance in our country. There are expressions of democracy under threat that are a result of loss of ethical compass and moral direction. The ANC and the [Tripartite] Alliance reaffirm our support for the constitution, the bill of rights and the judiciary. We distance ourselves from narratives that seek to negate its transformative intent and gains,” said Ramaphosa. 

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