Thursday, May 14, 2009

ANC Veteran Lindiwe Sisulu Appointed as New Defence Minister in South Africa

Kenya’s in-law is new SA defence minister

The new South African Defence minister Lindiwe Sisulu was sworn-in at the presidential guest house in Pretoria, last week. She is married to a Kenyan academic, Prof Rok

By SAMWEL KUMBAPosted Tuesday, May 12 2009 at 19:50

As minister for Defence in the cabinet named by new South African President Jacob Zuma, Ms Lindiwe Sisulu is undoubtedly one of the most powerful persons in the African powerhouse.

When President Kibaki attended the inauguration of President Zuma at the weekend, it might not have immediately struck him that he could claim the person soon after to be appointed Defence minister.

Ms Sisulu is the wife of a Kenyan, Prof Rok Ajulu, one of the academics who fled the country at the height of the Moi repression targeting independent thinkers and perceived dissidents in the early 1980s.

Prof Ajulu told the Daily Nation on Tuesday that he was not surprised about the appointment since his wife was a fairly senior minister already.

“You are aware she has previously held very senior positions. Having been minister in the Intelligence docket, she has a feel of the happenings in the Defence ministry,” he said.

Prof Ajulu was in Kenya just a month ago, and while visiting prefers to stay in his rural home in Bondo “because it is cheaper”. His wife will accompany him home for a Christmas party later this year where they intend to spend over ten days.

Despite his long period away, Prof Ajulu has never forgotten his Kenyan roots. He has been a regular visitor since the fall of the one-party regime, and maintains close contact with his compatriots from the days of the struggle, including Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Lands minister James Orengo and Health minister Anyang’ Nyong’o.

His daughter from a previous relationship in England, Achieng Ajulu Bushell, retains close ties with Kenya. An international swimmer, she opted to represent Kenya rather than England or South Africa.

Prof Ajulu’s wife had a lengthy stint as former President Thabo Mbeki’s Housing minister, a critical docket charged with addressing some of the inequalities of apartheid.

Major promotion

But her appointment to the powerful Defence ministry marks a major promotion. She is not just in charge of a major budget, but also one of the most powerful military machines in Africa.

The South Africa military has the capacity to launch sea, air and ground strikes across vast swathes of Africa.

Since the end of apartheid, however, it has not been deployed for hostile activities against other African countries, focusing more on peacekeeping operations. It is a vital strategic force in terms of regional security. The new Defence minister and her husband are both children of and veterans of the struggle.

Ms Sisulu is a daughter of freedom struggle icons Walter and Albertina Sisulu and an icon of the anti-apartheid campaign in her own right. She was arrested and faced a life sentence at 24!

Prof Ajulu took the mantle from his father Stephen Odero Ajulu, who was a political activist in the 1960s under the then opposition Kenya People’s Union.

When his father died, Prof Ajulu stepped into the role as an adviser to then opposition leader Oginga Odinga, and then maintained a long collaboration with his son, Mr Raila Odinga.

Prof Ajulu’s father was imprisoned for political activities in Kenya while Ms Sisulu’s parents were imprisoned by the apartheid regime in South Africa.

Prof Ajulu was expelled from the University of Nairobi for political activism and ended up in South African exile via England and Lesotho.

Ms Sisulu also took up political activism and was also imprisoned by the apartheid regime before going into exile to continue her studies at the University of Lesotho. That was where the two met and eventually married in 1996.

As a youthful member of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the military wing of the ANC, Ms Sisulu specialised in intelligence and after her university education in Swaziland and England served as a key aide of Mr Zuma, then the ANC Intelligence chief.

In 1990, after the unbanning of the ANC and other political organisations, Ms Sisulu returned to South Africa and resumed work as personal assistant to Mr Zuma.

She then joined the government as an administrator in the Department of Intelligence and Security for the ANC. She also worked as chief administrator of the ANC at the Convention for a Democratic South Africa and as a consultant for Unesco’s Children’s Rights Committee.

In 1992, she was awarded the Human Rights Centre fellowship in Geneva. She has published extensively on the subjects of women, the liberation struggle, working conditions and agriculture.

Ms Sisulu was elected to the South African Parliament in 1994 and was appointed to the Housing docket in April of that year, where she oversaw a massive programme required to redress years of racial inequalities.

She held the critical position of Minister of Intelligence between January 2001 and April 2004 and served as deputy minister of Home Affairs between 1996 and 2001. In addition to children from previous relationships, the couple has a son, Olindi Obango, named after his paternal grandparents.

Che Samora Ajulu is the eldest son and is named after the revolutionary Cuban and Mozambican leaders, Che Guavera and Samora Machel. There is also a daughter Ayanda and a son, Vuyo.

1 comment:

Goodman Manyanya Phiri said...

You are writing public relations; you have no clue what the Sisulu mamzer family has done to South Africans. They are for South Africans the scum of the earth, and if her Kenyan husband is of the same ilk, he can take her along to hell. Please visit one of my blogs, one of which is named "Lengibatsandzako"