Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu’s latest article, which she published on Wednesday (12 January) in defence of her controversial comments on the rule of law, has sparked plagiarism claims.
In her latest article, Sisulu responded to ANC veteran Mavuso Msimang’s criticism of her “attack” on South Africa’s rule of law, the constitution and judges.
The Minister had suggested, in her initial article, that the rule of law is meaningless without transformation and land reform. She also referred to judges as “mentally colonised Africans.”
Her comments have drawn widespread criticism, including from Msimang, opposition parties, civil society and the Presidency, which referred to the comments as “reckless.”
However, Sisulu fired back specifically at Msimang, accusing him of adopting a “factionalist position” and “viewing every analysis of the rule of law and criticism that does not accord with his myopic and jaundiced perspective as an attack on the constitution.”
Plagiarism claims on Sisulu’s article
Just hours after Sisulu shared her second article, however, some observers on social media flagged passages from it that appeared to have been copied word for word from a speech by former UK Attorney-General Dominic Grieve without attribution.
Legal analyst Dan Mafora was among the first notice the apparent plagiarism. He shared screenshots of Grieve’s speech and Sisulu’s piece on Twitter showing the duplicate content.
In response to a query from TimesLIVE, Sisulu’s spokesperson denied claims that the Minister had plagiarised passages from Grieve’s speech.
“Minister Sisulu cited the author, the source, the specific piece and date of publication or court ruling instance. This is the exact opposite of plagiarism,” he told the publication.
However, the article does not appear to cite Grieve or put his passages in quotation marks. Instead, the passages appear to have been seamlessly incorporated without attribution.
Meanwhile, Msimang has questioned the timing of Sisulu’s piece, claiming that the Minister would do “anything” to win the ANC presidential contest later this year.
“It was clear that releasing this article at this stage was bound to deepen the already existing divisions with the organisation,” he said in an interview with EWN on Thursday.