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Sisulu uses Jews to play the victim card



Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu is using the Jewish community to play the victim in what appears to be a point scoring game in the African National Congress (ANC) presidential race.

Sisulu told SABC News on Sunday, 30 October, that the South African Jewish community was enraged with her when, as minister of international affairs and cooperation, she implemented the 2017 ANC resolution to downgrade the South African embassy in Israel to a liaison office. She went on to complain that President Cyril Ramaphosa didn’t “come to her rescue” at this tough time.

The minister, also an ANC national executive committee member, has open ambitions to take over the presidency from Ramaphosa. She went on to tell SABC News political editor Mzwandile Mbeje that she was left “dangling alone” when she carried out this controversial resolution, which, in fact, wasn’t enacted as such. However, it has been so stripped of resources, it is barely able to look after its own citizens in Israel, let alone perform the normal range of diplomatic functions normally expected of a foreign mission, according to SA Board of Deputies (SAJBD) national director Wendy Kahn.

However, Sisulu claimed that when she executed this downgrade, she recalled how the Jewish community became “livid” and made their views well known.

She felt “punished by the Jewish community and the ANC”, she said, as no one stood up for her in saying that it was, in fact, an ANC resolution.

“The Israeli representatives in the country felt aggrieved,” Sisulu said, and she was “publicly humiliated in their newspapers”.

In the television interview, which covered many other issues as well, she said she expected Ramaphosa to come to her rescue as “it was a public matter everybody could see”.

“I would have expected him to say, ‘Look, this is my minister, and I’m going to respect the resolutions of government.’ I was left dangling alone.” Asked if the president did anything while she was being “attacked”, she said, “The president kept quiet.”

The interview took place just few weeks shy of the ANC’s elective conference, with the race for the top job intensifying and the tourism minister making her ambitions for the top job clear.

The minister is “dredging up grievances from years ago to score political points and attack the president”, said Professor Karen Milner, the SAJBD national chairperson.

“This seems to have more to do with internal ANC issues than the Jewish community. But it’s important to mention that the implication that the Jewish community was out of line in some way for holding the minister accountable for her actions must be rejected.

“As citizens of this country, the Jewish community is entitled to express its views on policies that affect it, and we’re surprised that the minister would think otherwise,” Milner said.

Steven Gruzd, an analyst at the South African Institute of International Affairs, said, “It’s part of the moves before the ANC elective conference in December to make President Ramaphosa look weak and indecisive. I don’t think this is a big issue for anyone in the ANC in the bigger picture. People are unlikely to fall for her desperation and exasperation. The anti-Ramaphosa are her target here. It’s election season, and strange things happen.”

Political analyst Daniel Silke agrees that Sisulu is trying to “show Ramaphosa up” in any way possible.

“Lindiwe Sisulu is attempting to campaign to become president of the ANC. She has spent the past number of months – and it’s reaching a crescendo – finding ways to criticise Ramaphosa. She’s suggested that the step-aside rule be applied to him in relation to the Phala Phala scandal, so she’s certainly becoming more and more outspoken as we move towards December in an attempt to put a clear blue line between her and the president, to denigrate him, and show him up.

“The Israel issue is always an issue that can be used as a political football, and she’s trying to drive a wedge between herself and the president in a bid to undermine his authority and his leadership, and to show him up as some sort of inadequate president in the case of this particular ANC resolution,” he said.

“It’s a terribly thin issue, and it has little relevance for the broader ANC. Her complaints seem to be extremely thin. They don’t have much ground.”

According to reports, Sisulu has long positioned herself as a presidential hopeful, siding with the Radical Economic Transformation faction. More recently, she has reportedly teamed up with the candidate endorsed by former President Jacob Zuma, namely his ex-wife, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

In January this year, Sisulu landed in hot water after she launched an outrageous attack on the country’s Constitution and judiciary when she penned the now infamous open letter titled: “Hi Mzansi, have we seen justice?” Which was published a day ahead of Ramaphosa’s delivery of the ANC’s annual January 8th Statement.

“The most dangerous African today is the mentally colonised African,” Sisulu wrote. “And when you put them in leadership positions or as interpreters of the law, they are worse than your oppressor… In America, these interpreters are called House Negroes.”

Sisulu was summoned by the president to account for the article, the presidency issued a statement claiming that she had retracted it and apologised, but she responded with a fierce denial (effectively accusing Ramaphosa of lying), and the presidency reiterated its statement and called the matter closed.

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