South Africa

DAYS OF ZONDO

As Makhosi Khoza testifies, the curtain lifts on ANC parliamentary caucus factions – and toeing the line to defend Zuma

Central on day four of the State Capture commission’s special parliamentary oversight hearings was former ANC MP Makhosi Khoza’s testimony that laid bare parliamentary caucus dynamics. (Photo: Gallo Images / Daily Sun / Lindile Mbontsi)

The ANC may be responsible ‘for a certain share of blame’ for Parliament’s ineffective oversight by hemming in its MPs. That’s how State Capture commission chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo wrapped a day of bruising details of ANC parliamentary caucus dynamics.

Central on day four of the State Capture commission’s special parliamentary oversight hearings was former ANC MP Makhosi Khoza’s testimony that laid bare parliamentary caucus dynamics, particularly ahead of the 8 August 2017 vote of no confidence by secret ballot in then-president Jacob Zuma. 

That then ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe should have instructed MPs to defend Zuma – “We were told an attack on Jacob Zuma is an attack on the ANC. We were instructed to vote in favour of Jacob Zuma” – left commission chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo taken aback. 

The party political instruction jarred with the Constitutional Court judgment that put MPs’ duty to country and Constitution above party loyalty – despite any uncomfortable consequences for the public elected representatives. 

“Nowhere does the supreme law provide for them to swear allegiance to their political parties, important players though they are in our constitutional scheme. Meaning, in the event of conflict between upholding constitutional values and party loyalty, their irrevocable undertaking to, in effect, serve the people and do only what is in their best interests must prevail,” said the Constitutional Court judgment on 22 June 2017.

That ruling came after the United Democratic Movement (UDM) approached the Constitutional Court over a secret ballot. The then speaker Baleka Mbete, also ANC national chairperson, had said she did not have the power to decide on that.

But the Constitutional Court said she did, and only she could decide. It took another six week before Mbete, at a media briefing on the eve of the scheduled no-confidence vote, announced,“I determine the voting in the motion of no confidence in the president on the 8th of August will be by secret ballot.”

It was a pivotal moment – for South Africa’s public life, for Parliament and for Mbete, who was criticised for bias given her role as one of the ANC’s top six officials. According to the parliamentary grapevine, she had been put in the position of speaker to protect Zuma and his ministers. 

What did not emerge in Thursday’s dry setting of a judicial inquiry conducted via Zoom calls, was the tension and roiling politics and Byzantine manoeuvring of the time. 

Then, Zuma’s relationship with the Guptas and State Capture was increasingly exposed in public, also through #GuptaLeaks. Calls came from the ANC’s veteran and stalwart ranks for Zuma to leave office. In April 2017 thousands of South Africans marched in anti-Zuma protests across the country. 

The UDM’s Constitutional Court case had started discussions around MPs’ roles as elected representatives of the public. And talk of following one’s conscience that arose with the secret ballot litigation set in motion not only talk of ANC MPs voting by conscience, rather than party diktat, but also behind the scenes lobbying to secure votes. Meetings were held; arguments offered to persuade; agreements quietly reached. Across the opposition, it was thought they had clinched support from enough ANC MPs. 

Tuesday, 8 August 2017, was one of those key mobilising moments for the ANC where all stops were pulled into a show of force, strength and unity.

Outside Parliament, there were protests against Zuma, while the Western Cape ANC had rallied pro-Zuma demonstrators. Inside the parliamentary precinct, a group of ANC MPs burst into pro-Zuma song. 

The then ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe addressed a special caucus, also attended by Zuma, to lay down the marching orders – defeat the opposition motion of no confidence. 

He cautioned that South Africa was turning into a “judiciocracy”, according to Thursday’s Zondo testimony, and dismissed any notion of voting by conscience.  

Although a no-confidence motion is a constitutional tool to hold the executive accountable, the ANC styled it as an opposition attempt at regime change, a favourite of then state security minister David Mahlobo, of attempts to bring about a coup d’etat and of “insurrectional opposition”. 

The truth is the situation in the ANC was such that anyone who sought to uphold the rule of law will be severely punished. The ruling party was instrumental in crippling, in weakening [parliamentary] oversight.

As it turned out, the ANC won the day as the motion of no confidence was defeated, with 198 votes against, 177 for and nine abstentions. But that count was significantly tighter than the previous no-confidence motion on 10 November 2016, by open vote. 

On Thursday Khoza told Zondo that a week after the second motion was defeated, Mantashe and Zuma, speaking as ANC president, said disciplinary proceedings would be brought against those who had voted with their conscience. 

Zondo canvassed that point repeatedly. It was important to him.

“It may have been bad enough by any other party, but when it is said by the ruling party, the majority party, it’s even worse. [When] somebody, and especially the secretary-general of the ANC or the president of the ANC or the national executive says, in effect, ‘Anybody who has acted in accordance with what the judgment of the Constitutional Court said will be disciplined by the party’, I can’t understand… I can’t understand how that could be said in the light of the judgment,” said Zondo.

“What kind of message does that give, not just to the members of the ANC… but the public? What is it supposed to say about respect for the Constitution? What is it supposed to say about the respect for the courts?” 

Khoza had two succinct replies. 

“The truth is the situation in the ANC was such that anyone who sought to uphold the rule of law will be severely punished,” she said. “The ruling party was instrumental in crippling, in weakening [parliamentary] oversight.” 

On Tuesday former ANC MP Zukiswa Rantho testified how none of the State Capture claims were discussed in the governing party’s parliamentary caucus between 2009 and 2014 at least. And how in 2017 some in the ANC parliamentary caucus were opposed to the 2017 public enterprises committee State Capture probe, concerned that it would implicate ANC members. 

That committee was the only one of four that had been asked by Parliament to probe the damning #GuptaLeaks claims. 

“It was a great risk we were taking as there was a divided caucus,” said Rantho, who while chairing the parliamentary Eskom State Capture inquiry received threats, as did her family. She did not return to Parliament following the May 2019 elections. 

In interacting with Khoza following the formal led testimony, Zondo again expressed concern about apparent executive impunity. 

“The ruling party itself may be responsible for a certain share of blame as to why its own member of Parliament might have felt that they were limited in a very serious way in properly discharging their oversight functions,” said Zondo. 

“It is quite concerning if the ruling party was giving instruction towards its members of Parliament [that] it was wrong to perform your oversight functions properly… you shouldn’t call an ANC minister to account.” 

Khoza faced ANC parliamentary charges, but ultimately was brought up on disciplinary charges by the KwaZulu-Natal ANC in September 2017, and then resigned from the ANC which she had joined aged 12. 

Her blunt testimony on ANC parliamentary dynamics may well see her lambasted for party hopping – she helped form a new party, but now belongs to ex-DA Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba’s Action SA. 

It would not be new. Like Rantho, the outspoken Khoza was also threatened, physically and through smear campaigns.

I didn’t mind when the threats were directed at me. But my children were going through so much emotional pain,” said Khoza, losing control over her voice for just a moment. “My children were forever worried whether I was coming back alive.” 

The ANC is expected to give its account, although no date was given. Zondo on Thursday said the governing party was “cooperating with the commission” and deposing affidavits.

For Zondo on Thursday, as on Tuesday, a nagging question emerged: if Parliament had done effective and proper oversight, billions of rands lost through State Capture could have been saved. DM

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  • Is it really any surprise that the ANC. including those elected to the highest office and who swear to uphold the Constitution, put the interests of the Party and their discredited, dishonest President above the Country and its citizens? This is a party acting as if South Africa is their private fiefdom – and they loot and destroy it as they feel fit.

  • The anc has so much “blood” on their hands! They were and are complicit in just about everything that has gone wrong in this country. They look after their own and act with total impunity. It is nothing but a putrid criminal syndicate that has just about destroyed this country. Evil, Godless and heartless parasites!!

  • So it’s clearly not just an Ace thing, but a standard approach by all ANC SGs: “not to worry so much about the constitution”…

    Our nation should be terrified!

  • Statements made by the leadership in or outside of Parliament on 8 September 2017, lest they or we forget:

    ANC Chief Whip Jackson Mthembu:
    “This motion marks the eighth attempt by the DA to remove the ANC government through a soft coup in Parliament. It has been the publicly stated intention of the opposition to manipulate the legislature‚ usurp the Constitution‚ so as to collapse Government‚ deter service delivery and sow seeds of chaos in society to ultimately grab power. Members of the ANC have defended the Revolution To us that’s the most important thing and the ANC has never been an organisation that’s punitive. we were confident that we’re going to defeat this thing. Yes‚ there might be some members of the ANC who might have voted with the opposition but for now the most important aspect is that this vote of no confidence has been defeated. The ANC MPs have not sold out to the DA or the opposition. ANC MPs have defended the ANC‚ we have refused to embolden the opposition.
    All these other things are things that we will look at‚ study them‚ study the maths of who was here and then take it from there but it has never been the DNA of the ANC to be punitive. We will look at what is this thing that has made certain members of the ANC to be a little bit hesitant to defend their party when it is under attack. “

    ANC Deputy Chief Whip Doris Dlakude:
    “This debate is about our integrity as the governing party, public representatives and the nation which occurs in an environment a democratically elected majority … Is pitted against an insurrectional opposition (representing elites).

    President Jacob Zuma:
    The interpretation of some of the things are interesting. The ANC was voted by the overwhelming majority of masses of the country. No party has ever received such a number. Now they believe they could use technicalities in parliament to take over the majority in parliament.

    Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini:
    And therefore we are here to say the ANC of Albert Luthuli‚ the ANC of Oliver Tambo‚ the ANC of Charlotte Maxeke‚ the ANC of Mahlangu‚ the ANC of Peter Mokaba‚ Lilian Ngoyi is not going anywhere. They will never do anything to it. When we are inside there‚ we didn’t get there with our conscience. I haven’t put my conscience in parliament”

    Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa:
    “The imperialist agenda of regime change …win through the back door what it had lost at the ballot. The stooges and their bosses are targeting the people’s assembly because they think it is their apartheid Parliament… The ultimate target is the ANC… The ANC is united, solid and vibrant. The ANC will resolve their own internal dynamics.”

    ANC Free State spokesman Thabo Meeko:
    “The agenda of the opposition‚ which is sponsored by the imperialists‚ is to topple the ANC.”

    ANC MP Pule Mabe:
    “Everything the DA does is guided by opportunism and desperation for fame. It is a frivolous motion of no confidence … [tantamount] to a coup d’état.”

    Police Minister Fikile Mbalula:
    “If Msholozi must go‚ it is us that we will make him go. He will not go because of these cheaters. It is us who will make him go. It is us that place him in the position. He is our president. There are those [including the Constitutional Court] who have been asking [about] our conscience. We’ve got political conscience to keep the ANC in power forever. That is our political conscience. The ANC has been tested over time. This is not the first test or the last. The ANC will survive…. We will never surrender power to Mmusi Maimane. He is a stooge. He does not represent the interest of our people. We will never surrender the ANC to stooges.”

    ANC North West spokesman Gerald Modise:
    “We are still waiting for a report but our position that any ANC member who misbehaves must appear before the disciplinary committee.”

    Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula:
    “My political consciousness tells me to defend the ANC. They want ANC members to help them fulfil that ambition … the opposition in this house are doing all they can to further divide the ANC‚ including sponsoring this motion … the only way the ANC can lose power is by way of a negative vote at the next general election … we should not use other tactics to get rid of a governing party … that will be akin to a coup d’état … I have a duty to defend the ANC. My conscience tells me we all need to respect the voters, who have brought us here. The only way the ANC can lose power is in a negative vote in the next election… I am standing here as this podium to defend the ANC.”

    Minister of Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu:
    “This is democracy at play. The mere fact that we had this entire process says we have mechanisms that can’t be played with here. I’m very happy with the result. I’m very very very happy. There is absolutely no way the ANC can vote with that motion, whatever the motion was. … President Zuma is still with us. Look at the vote.”

    Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane:
    “No regime change agenda can divide the ANC. We don’t want our democracy to be urinated on by amadlagusha. We cannot allow regime change. Money cannot buy our revolution. Our commitment has never been secret.”

  • Neither the anc as an organisation nor any of it’s members have the feintest idea what integrity means. Never has and never will have. Always looking for someone or something else to blame for their atrocities and just destroying this country. (Unfortunately seemingly with the blessing of the voters.)

  • Although it wasn’t official we ALL knew something was not right and this is no surprise. The ANC behaves like the blacks used to dote on their Kings. Nobody dares say anything bad about their ruler as that will result in heavy punishment or even a horrible death. Its only the single one black person that recognises that this sort of behavior does not make for honest and good ruling. My hat off to Khoza, who was brave enough to recognise that and act accordingly by not wanting to be associated with treasonous behavior.
    The swearing in of members of parliament is an utter farce. swearing on the Bible, while not one of them seems to believe in a higher power. As far as that goes, the swearing in they should all be up for treason!

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