Lindiwe’s ghost

Jeremy Gordin |

20 January 2022

Jeremy Gordin wonders how the minister’s notorious attack on black judges came about

Preparing for this column, I asked someone – though someone not especially interested in “politics” [i] – what she would like to read about this week.

She replied: “Other than Novak, I’d say Lindiwe.” By the former, she meant Novak Djokovic the tennis player; by the latter she meant minister of tourism Lindiwe Sisulu [ii].

What, I wondered, could I write about Djokovic? Seems to me that the story is over for now; verby. All I can think of remarking is that when it comes to tennis, the Australians really know how to return a Serb.

Regarding Sisulu, I knew her late brother Zwelakhe pretty well and I have met her three or four times – once (I think) at Jacob G Zuma’s 2009 coronation and once before that at some sort of 2008 toenadering arranged in Cape Town for so-called senior Independent Newspapers editorial staff and selected government head honchos [iii].

More relevant for present purposes, however, my learned friend Andrew Donaldson has just written in his inimitable style about the struggle princess’ “controversial attacks on the Constitution and on the integrity of the judiciary” which are held to be an indication “that she has thrown her hat into the ring for leadership of the ruling party”.

Donaldson is not the only person to have written in reaction to, and/or about, Sisulu’s notorious opinion piece. Many others – such as, say, Douglas Gibson – have also remarked that Sisulu, by virtue (or vice) of her article, “was clearly claiming a place in the faction led by Jacob Zuma, Ace Magashule and the so-called RET (Radical economic transformation) forces opposing President Ramaphosa,” and so on.


So, what more can I say about Sisulu’s article? [iv] Well, might I be permitted to highlight the following quote from the article?

 “[W]hat explains the sudden astronomical wealth of so-called ‘liberators’ over such a short period of time? How did some become multi-millionaires and billionaires overnight while a third of their fellow citizens languish on social grants? … [L]ike Mzansi Magic [v], we have some socialism-spouting ‘liberators’ draped in flags, transformed and co-opted into the capitalist class and leafy suburbs.

“In 1994, they struggled to put petrol in their cars. Some didn’t even own one [vi]. And yet when it is election time, you will hear them spouting, ‘Our people, our people’. Surely, this was not the vision of the real liberators. Those whom we revere as the ‘Struggle Stalwarts’. They have gone to their graves, with a dream deferred [vii], their life’s work besmirched, and their sacrifices spat upon. What happened to us?”

Might I also be permitted to point out that those are sentiments that neither you nor I would have been ashamed to have written?