Makhosi Khoza has been an ANC activist since she was 12 years old, but she’s deeply distressed by her party’s continued support of President Jacob Zuma and the hounding of his opponents.
“It’s common cause how I voted,” she said on Tuesday’s no confidence motion in Zuma. “Obviously I can’t betray my conscience.”
Khoza, along with more than a handful of ANC Members of Parliament, made it clear that she would vote according to her conscience during the no confidence motion – meaning she would vote against Zuma. The president’s supporters have called for her and others who refused to follow the party line to be punished after Zuma survived by a slim margin, with up to 39 ANC MPs voting against him or abstaining.
“It’s people that have no foresight. It’s people that are denialists. It is people that don’t love the ANC. It’s people that want to protect what they’ve accrued,” said Khoza on the ANC leaders calling for disciplinary action to be taken against MPs suspected of voting against the president in the secret ballot.
Zuma and his key allies, such as Free State Premier Ace Magashule and ANC Women’s League President Bathabile Dlamini, have said that errant MPs should face consequences, even though the Constitutional Court and former ANC presidents Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe have said MPs should be able to vote according to their obligations to the Constitution without fear of censure.
“They’re not different from the apartheid forces. In fact, they’re worse,” said Khoza. During apartheid there was a common enemy that never pretended to be in the ANC’s corner. Now, she said, ANC members pretend to be committed to building the country but are only trying to protect their self-interest, captured by capitalism. “Evil has no colour, that’s the point I’m trying to say.”
Khoza said she would not stoop to the level of her detractors and she will accept it if she is fired.
“The mission has changed. The values have changed,” she said, claiming that the ANC has been trapped by capitalism’s benefits. “There is a tendency to glorify and romanticise the liberation struggle as if everything was fine.” The struggle movements had their problems – Khoza saw people who were necklaced and almost lost her life when she tried to intervene.
She said Zuma’s problems were known before he came into power. “I think the ANC should have recalled Zuma before this vote.” Defending him only undermined the future of the party. “It’s just a crazy organisation,” she said.
Khoza is still committed to saving the ANC, but she clearly believes the party is going in the wrong direction and, like other liberation movements across the continent, it’s losing public support as leaders enrich themselves and the party fails to hold them accountable.
Khoza refuted the official ANC statement claiming Zuma’s victory on Tuesday was a positive for the party. However, she said there were positives to take away from the vote. Some ANC MPs, more than any before in such a vote, understood the issues and stood up to the president. She said the public response to her stance had been humbling. “To be honest with you it’s been quite overwhelming. It’s been really, really positive.”
It’s come with a cost. Khoza choked up when she spoke of her children. She said her daughter was the most shaken by the death threats sent to both her and her family. But her 19-year-old son, who has grown up knowing only Khoza as a single parent, had also been severely affected.
“My son actually at some stage was actually like, ‘I think the police are actually treating you like a fugitive.’” She said the police would go to her house and ask her son who Khoza has been meeting with, where she is. “It’s really taking its toll on my kids,” she said. “That sometimes breaks me but I am resolute as I want to do it. The last thing they want me to do is retreat.”
On 10 September, Khoza will face disciplinary charges from the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal. She believes the charges are politically motivated and they’ve been laid against her specifically because she’s spoken out against Zuma. Khoza said the result of the disciplinary hearing is a “foregone conclusion”. She wants to participate because she believes the ANC’s principles should be applied equally, even if the president seems to have violated much of the party’s rules.
Can Khoza continue to serve as an MP under Zuma’s leadership? What will she do now? Khoza would not answer questions about her future, only to say she would first go through her ANC KZN disciplinary proceedings. Do not be surprised after that if she chooses to resign from Parliament and focus on transforming the ANC ahead of its December conference, where Zuma will be replaced. DM
Photo: ANC MP Makhosi Khoza (GCIS)
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