South Africa

PARTY STRIFE

‘They’ll have to bring bouncers’: Former ANC rebel Makhosi Khoza squares up to her new party, ActionSA

Dr Makhosi Khoza outside the Johannesburg Magistrates' Court on 13 September 2021. (Photo: Gallo Images/Luba Lesolle)

Outspoken former ANC MP Makhosi Khoza is facing a new battle in her new party over her role as provincial chairperson and how she landed a powerful job in the eThekwini Municipality – but she vows she ‘will not budge’.

Political rabble-rouser Dr Makhosi Khoza is readying herself to fight the mother of all political battles – this time to keep the eThekwini Municipality council seat she won under the banner of her new party, the newly formed ActionSA.

ActionSA confirmed to Daily Maverick that she is facing a raft of charges for misrepresenting the party in media interviews on how she was demoted from her position as the party’s KwaZulu-Natal leader.

Khoza, who is one of the four councillors representing ActionSA in the eThekwini Municipality, was asked by the party to relinquish the position of party provincial chairperson after she was given the powerful position of chairperson of the municipal public accounts committee (MPAC). Accusations circulated that this was a reward for defying her party’s instruction to vote with the DA and throwing her weight behind the ANC. 

Subsequently, Khoza had a public spat with party leader Herman Mashaba, which put her position as ActionSA’s public representative at risk. 

But during an interview with Daily Maverick, Khoza was adamant that should she be sanctioned by losing her seat, she will fight off any action, even if it means going to court.

“I am going to defend that seat. Anyone who wishes to take that seat from me will have to fight very hard. They will have to bring bouncers because I will do anything to keep it. I will not budge, they will have to get a court order,” she said.

“I was the face of ActionSA in KZN. I have worked very hard to build party structures since November 2020. I went on the door-to-door campaign and the people of KZN and eThekwini were rewarded with their votes. Now I will not betray those people. That is why I will not give up that seat.”

Khoza has had a tumultuous career in public life. She was an outspoken and “rabble-rouser” MP, especially during former president Jacob Zuma’s second term. In 2017, she resigned from the ANC, claiming that the party was protecting corrupt leaders. She formed her own political party, African Democratic Change, which kicked her out after a dispute with other party leaders.

Then she joined the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA), an anti-corruption advocacy organisation focused on tackling government corruption and misappropriation of public funds, as the head of its local government programme. She left after eight months, only to emerge a few months later under the ActionSA tent. Later she was appointed as the party’s interim KZN leader.

Khoza insists that she “resigned” as provincial leader so she could focus on the MPAC job.

“I think I have really achieved to get the name of ActionSA in KZN. In KZN we didn’t use the face of ActionSA president Herman Mashaba. My face was used in the campaign. In KwaDukuza we managed to take the ANC from 61% down to 49%. In Newcastle we were campaigning for the first time and we won a ward. Nowhere else did ActionSA win a ward but in Newcastle Municipality we won a ward and three additional seats. In eThekwini Municipality we also did very well, winning four seats,” she said.

She rubbished accusations that she voted for the ANC to help the party regain the municipality. She said the instruction from party leaders was that the four ActionSA councillors must vote with the DA.

“Although the vote was through a secret ballot, we voted according to the party’s instructions and voted with the DA,” she said.

Khoza added that the heat to get her fired from her party started after EFF leader Julius Malema accused her of defying her party and voting for the ANC

“There is this narrative going around that just because the ANC voted for me it is a bad thing. I spoke to eThekwini Municipality Speaker Thabani Nyawose and he told me that he will be behind me and I must investigate without any fear or favour. I was surprised to get that support from him and it gives me courage to move forward and clean this city.

“If people think that I am going to be the darling of corruption, they are mistaken. I want to deal with corruption in eThekwini. There has been so much corruption in eThekwini over the years but there have been no consequences. This will change now.” 

Khoza said the reason the DA failed to win in eThekwini was the condescending and racial prejudice of the party’s regional leadership.

The DA’s leader in eThekwini, Nicole Graham, had been sabotaging their mission by belittling the leaders of smaller parties.

“She was calling them small boys and some of these leaders called me to ask how they must vote because these people (the DA) were disrespecting them. I had to call Nicole and tell her that she must respect other leaders because she needed their support.

“I told these leaders (of smaller parties) that they must decide for themselves what to do. I told them they must follow their conscience. I couldn’t tell them to vote for ANC corruption on one side or vote for racism on the other. To me those are the twin evils,” she said.

Khoza said she still believes in the vision and values of ActionSA but her future with the party depends on the leadership’s stance on her. 

“I see my future contributing to the growth of ActionSA. But that is not my call to make. If ActionSA pushes me out, obviously I will have to look for a new political home. I will still be around,” she said.

Initially, Mashaba had said he had engaged with Khoza, the outcome of which resulted in her taking a “step back” from leading the party in KZN and focusing more on her new role in the eThekwini Municipality.

“The engagements held came to the view that the MPAC was not anticipated or planned for but is an extremely important role both for the residents of eThekwini and ActionSA. It represents the opportunity to see the first real fight against wrongdoing in eThekwini,” Mashaba said in a statement.

But during an interview with 702 Talk Radio, Khoza disputed the reason behind her demotion, accusing party leaders of suspecting that she had voted for the ANC against her party’s standing position to vote with the DA. She said she had been removed from serving in the ActionSA senate, its highest decision-making body.

ActionSA spokesperson Lerato Ngobeni said Khoza is still a member of the party in good standing and a representative in the eThekwini Municipality. 

However, Khoza was facing disciplinary charges for misrepresenting the party. “The charges were instituted against her after the president (Mashaba) laid a complaint last Friday (14 January) when she misrepresented the party about why she was removed from the position of KZN party leader. In the interviews she gave the impression that she had been removed from the chairperson position because of the MPAC and the suspicions that she had been in collusion with the ANC. That is not what happened, she is the one who sent a letter of resignation to the party.” 

Ngobeni said a date for Khoza’s disciplinary action is yet to be set but she will appear before five disciplinary committee members whose decision will then be discussed in the senate. Should the committee find her guilty, Khoza would be given an opportunity to appeal.

Ngobeni would not pre-empt any outcome or possible penalties.

Khoza will be the first senior political leader to face disciplinary action in ActionSA since Mashaba, the former Johannesburg mayor, formed the party on 29 August 2020. DM

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All Comments 8

    • I don’t think anybody in politics has ever known what they are doing, to be honest. I’m thinking Boris, Trump and so on and so forth. The main focus is the trough. We have a dearth of leadership all over the world right now. We’re doomed.

      • Global politics is more dysfunctional and toxic than its been in many generations. Massive change is inevitable but the direction is uncertain. Bold new leaders with unselfish long-term vision are in apparent short-supply. They’re out there for sure but like all true leaders they don’t want the job, they must be called to it with the binary choice of do or die. The world is at a T-junction: left or right?

      • No, don’t agree with the we are doomed bit.. We just haven’t started doing the governing part of society for ourselves yet. But that is coming…

  • and the joke of SA politics goes on. if only all this infighting energy could be put to good use like the people of the country one take all political parties seriously.

  • Makhosi Khoza seems unable to mix with any political grouping, even one created by her own hand.
    Maybe she needs to follow the maxim “serve to lead” rather than her interpretation “lead to serve” which does nothing but inflate egos?

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