By: Sello Theletsane
JOHANNESBURG- Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister is suing DA member of Parliament Emma Powell for R5m for “defamatory” comments she allegedly made in a series of newspaper articles. One of the allegations attributed to Powell is that Sisulu appointed people who were involved in corruption to the National Rapid Response Task Team (NRRTT) to solicit deals and to get financial support for herself.
In her letter of demand dated 18 June 2020, Sisulu’s attorneys, Mabuza Attorneys, demanded that Powell retract her claims and issue a public apology, failing which Sisulu would ask for R5m damages. “Powell has since failed to meet the deadline and Africa News 24-7 understands that Sisulu is proceeding with her lawsuit against her. The DA MP could not be reached for a comment. An ANC national executive committee (NEC) member supportive of Sisulu who spoke on condition of anonymity said Powell “is maliciously and criminally silent in the wake of Sisulu’s inspiring confrontation to corruption, not only to the NRTT, but in the water boards after both forensic investigation reports pointed out that there was graft perpetuated by the suspended chief executives of Lepelle and Amatola Water Boards”.
“Powell foolishly allowed herself to be used by the criminally implicated CEOs, who were “understandably and conveniently” eager to divert attention from their corporate criminal sins, something which marks her lack of political maturity, judgment and experience in governance and politics.” The NEC member added that the suspended water board bosses “tried everything, including attempting to see President Cyril Ramaphosa in an effort to agitate the reshuffle of comrade Lindiwe Sisulu because they had to evade the law at all costs”.
The NEC member said Sisulu would stop at nothing in teaching Powell “how to conduct herself as a Member of Parliament and to become a better democratic person. “This includes demanding Powell’s resignation from the Speaker of Parliament if needs be”. “Members of parliament are expected to behave in a particular constructive way if we are to inclusively build this society, far from a conduct of a bought journalist, which Powell succumbed to.”
The NEC member said the two CEOs have been suspended by their respective boards, “merely on the basis of bringing their institutions into disrepute, especially the manner in which they handled themselves through the media when they were investigated”. She added that among the people who were concerned about the two CEO’s public behaviour was the Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane who reportedly verified their ethical conduct from Sisulu in their meeting last month. “Their vilification of the minister and her advisor, boards, stakeholders like the SAMWU, and by extension, government was indeed at the centre of their unbecoming civil servants ethical and professional inquiry.”
Africa News 24-7 understands that Advocate Barry Roux is currently receiving briefs from Sisulu’s investigators, and is eagerly happy to strike any time in the next few days on criminal prosecution of the two suspended chief executives. It is not clear if Sisulu would brief the ANC about these investigations. According to reliable sources, spouses of top Eastern Cape politicians are seriously implicated in the Amatola Water Board corruption. “That is why some politicians in that province are putting pressure on Ramaphosa to reshuffle Sisulu because the skeletons are about to come out,” said the source. “The question is: will Ramaphosa side with his political barons or support and defend Sisulu like he did with Pravin Gordhan in the past, in the fight against graft? Only time will tell, but as things stand, it is becoming clear why Sisulu’s name is persistently mentioned in reshuffle rumours. Her her sterling performance might not save her as it didn’t save her at the Department of International Relations after she represented the country with aplomb the source said.
Another senior ANC NEC member said it would be foolhardy if Ramaphosa removed a performing minister because of political expediency. The NEC member cited a lot of what he called non-performing ministers. “This will be viewed as factional pressure to Ramaphosa than rationality. “Remember Lindiwe Sisulu has already placed the ANC on a local government elections roller coaster. So removing her now will break that momentum because whoever replaces her will still have to learn for almost six to seven months. As things stand, the ANC is seating at the unprecedented 57% electoral performance and that’s academically a D symbol. We can’t afford to go below that because of short-sightedness”, said the NEC member.
Another member of the national working committee (NWC) told Africa News 24-7 that “wherever Sisulu goes, she implements the ANC resolutions with her head high up, and for that reason alone, she becomes politically reliable in the project of national democratic revolution. Removing Sisulu will not only backfire, BUT Ramaphosa would still owe the nation an explanation of why he removed her at the Department of International Relations in the first place”. The ANC Top Six should avoid making avoidable schoolboy errors because of narrow ends, especially in light of the upcoming local government elections, something which will have serious political implications to the current political leadership of the ANC, particularly Ramaphosa.”
The NWC member said Ramaphosa risked being remembered as the worst-performing ANC president in the polls, despite his wall to wall positive media coverage and support by white-owned media.