The ANC’s ‘loyal rebel’

CityPress - - News -

If Makhosi Khoza’s crit­ics hope that by call­ing for her re­call and ac­cus­ing her of grand­stand­ing that she will cower, they should think again. The fire­brand ANC MP with a rep­u­ta­tion for forthright­ness seems even more re­solved to speak out against the pol­i­tics of pa­tron­age in the party that she has been loyal to since the age of 12. Af­ter tak­ing to Face­book last Sun­day and warn­ing the ANC that it was ig­nor­ing the pub­lic’s re­sis­tance against Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma at its peril, she had a “sig­nif­i­cant ex­pe­ri­ence” this week.

A Grade 7 St John’s pupil ap­proached her in Sand­ton City shop­ping cen­tre. His name was Md­vumo Dlamini.

She re­counts the chance meet­ing: “‘Dr Khoza, which side do you stand on – are you with the peo­ple, or on the other side?’ The way he asked the ques­tion was re­mark­able. I couldn’t sleep that night, I don’t want to lie. I told him, ‘of course I am on the side of the peo­ple’.”

Khoza has raised con­cerns about “lead­er­ship in­ju­di­cious­ness” within party struc­tures.

Dur­ing the ANC’s most re­cent cau­cus meet­ing, she warned of the “per­ils of in­dif­fer­ence”, re­fer­ring to the ti­tle of a chill­ing speech made by Holo­caust sur­vivor Elie Wiesel at the White House in the US in 1999.

Then her re­quest for an ur­gent meet­ing with the ANC chair­per­son of KwaZulu-Na­tal – her home prov­ince – fell on deaf ears.

Khoza was driven by her con­science when she broke ranks. ANC lead­ers who had spo­ken out against Zuma’s Cab­i­net reshuf­fle were back­track­ing. In­stead of en­gag­ing at na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee level, the party’s lead­ers were call­ing on MPs to use their ma­jor­ity to block a mo­tion of no con­fi­dence in the pres­i­dent.

What made a huge im­pres­sion on her was the unprecedented mes­sage from the pub­lic who par­tic­i­pated in non­ra­cial marches against Zuma on April 7.

De­scrib­ing her dis­may over the ANC’s re­sponse, she says: “This was not a mo­ment to flex one’s mus­cles, but a mo­ment to lis­ten; to be sen­si­tive to what peo­ple are say­ing. Peo­ple were not re­volt­ing against ANC poli­cies, but against a par­tic­u­lar in­di­vid­ual. Yet we were find­ing nonex­is­tent con­spir­acy the­o­ries about racism and white mo­nop­oly cap­i­tal.”

She took to Face­book af­ter read­ing the pa­pers last Sun­day. She felt an­gered about “reck­less” com­ments at­trib­uted to se­nior ANC fig­ures that made light of the coun­try’s down­grade to “junk” sta­tus.

“I could not be­lieve that peo­ple didn’t un­der­stand the im­pli­ca­tions,” she says.

Khoza has no re­grets about her heart­felt com­ments. Mes­sages of sup­port on Face­book and from within the ANC far out­weigh the back­lash.

Speak­ing out is noth­ing new for Khoza, and earned her pub­lic respect dur­ing the re­cent par­lia­men­tary in­quiry into the SABC. Her out­spo­ken­ness dates back to her teenage days as a United Demo­cratic Front (UDF) ac­tivist. At one point, she was jailed and her house in Pi­eter­mar­itzburg was burnt down.

“I have al­ways stood up for what I be­lieve in, even to Madiba,” she says.

When for­mer pres­i­dent Nel­son Man­dela called for peace at a rally in Dur­ban in Fe­bru­ary 1990 and ap­pealed for weapons to be thrown into the sea, Khoza stood up and said to him: “Then what do we do? Our houses are be­ing burnt down.”

ANC and op­po­si­tion par­lia­men­tar­i­ans will not be ter­ri­bly sur­prised by her lat­est stance, in­clud­ing Yunus Car­rim, who chairs the stand­ing com­mit­tee on fi­nance. Car­rim has known Khoza since she was about 14, which is when she sought refuge at his home af­ter be­ing forced to flee her house dur­ing the Inkatha Free­dom Party-UDF vi­o­lence in the mid-1980s.

He says Khoza, from a dis­ad­van­taged back­ground, had done well to tri­umph over ad­ver­sity to get a PhD, write books and serve as a lo­cal gov­ern­ment lec­turer.

“Ac­tu­ally, when she stayed with us, she was al­ready dab­bling in poetry,” he says.

Un­til re­cently, as a mem­ber of his com­mit­tee, Khoza, a sin­gle mother of two chil­dren in univer­sity, brought her tech­ni­cal knowl­edge of the fi­nan­cial sec­tor to bear.

“It was good that she was pro­moted to be­ing a chair­per­son [of the pub­lic ser­vice and ad­min­is­tra­tion port­fo­lio com­mit­tee], but she’s been sorely missed in our com­mit­tee,” says Car­rim.

“What she wrote was not out of a sud­den im­pulse. It has been brew­ing. She has been im­mensely po­lit­i­cally, morally and emo­tion­ally chal­lenged by what’s hap­pen­ing to the move­ment.

“I know peo­ple will at­tack her for be­ing in­di­vid­u­al­is­tic, undis­ci­plined, di­vi­sive and pre­sent­ing her­self as holier than thou. Oth­ers will say she’s just grand­stand­ing. Ours is a very broad na­tional move­ment … Makhosi comes from the younger gen­er­a­tion and has a con­sid­er­able amount to of­fer … At least she’s tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for her views,” says Car­rim.

Khoza wrote on Face­book that a “tri­umphant story has turned tragic in my life­time”, but she has not lost com­plete hope that the ANC can be res­cued.

If the de­bate of no con­fi­dence goes ahead, how will Khoza vote?

“My in­stincts are telling me which way things should go; what needs to be done … The writ­ing is on the wall,” she says.

Makhosi Khoza TALK TO US Are ANC mem­bers scared of speak­ing out like Khoza?

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Makhosi Khoza

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