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Ramaphosa’s media team ‘deliberately mischievous’, says unapologetic Sisulu

Following the “war of statements” between President Cyril Ramaphosa’s office and Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu on Thursday evening, Sisulu has released another statement accusing the…

Following the “war of statements” between President Cyril Ramaphosa’s office and Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu on Thursday evening, Sisulu has released another statement accusing the Presidency’s media team of deliberately misrepresenting her recent meeting with Ramaphosa.

This follows Thursday night’s drama, in which the Presidency claimed Ramaphosa had admonished Sisulu during their meeting in Cape Town on Wednesday about her controversial op-ed, criticising the constitution and judiciary.

‘Deliberately mischievous’

In her latest statement on Friday, Sisulu said she was troubled that Ramaphosa’s media team was “deliberately mischievous” in the statement issued by the Presidency on Thursday night.

The minister said at no point in her conversation with the president was she “admonished or expressed regrets”, resulting in her agreeing to withdrew or apologise for her opinion piece.

She said she only agreed to reconsider her remarks about the judiciary which Ramaphosa had taken issue with.

Presidency statement

According to the statement released by the Presidency on Thursday, the minister had apparently retracted her criticism of the judiciary and African judges, in particular, conceding that her comments were “inappropriate, unsubstantiated, gratuitous and deeply hurtful”.

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In a surprise move, Sisulu distanced herself from the Presidency’s statement, saying “under no circumstances did I commit to any retraction or apology, since I stand by what I penned.”

The minister then promised to issue a detailed statement on Friday.

However, the Presidency said it stood by its earlier statement, despite Sisulu effectively saying Ramaphosa was lying by claiming she had apologised and retracted her remarks about the judiciary.

Deliberate misrepresentation

In her statement on Friday, Sisulu said she wanted to clarify what is, in her estimation, “a deliberate misrepresentation by the president’s media team regarding her meeting with the president”.

She confirmed that she met with Ramaphosa on Wednesday at his request for a consultation in which he “expressed discomfort” about her comments on her opinion piece relating to the judiciary and African judges being “mentally colonised”.

Sisulu said after their engagement, Ramaphosa “proposed that a third person or intermediary assist the particular and solitary line the president had found an ‘offensive’ expression”.

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“We had a mature and sensible meeting and we thus concluded on good terms. In fact, yesterday [Thursday] the president called me and read the specific sentence as redesigned that he had found offensive.

“We ended our discussion on an amicable base,” Sisulu said.

Sisulu added that she respected the office of the Presidency and Ramaphosa.

“However, she wishes to record that she is troubled that the President’s media team was deliberately mischievous in the statement issued as the minister at no point in the conversation was firstly admonished or secondly expressed regrets resulting in agreeing to withdrew or apologise for her article, but agreed to reconsider the particular line relating to the judiciary which the president had raised issue with and was to share with her,” her spokesperson Steve Motale said.

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