‘I’ve been betrayed by comrades’
Embattled Makhosi Khoza says being told who to vote for by the ANC leadership is an insult
BORN to a “rural woman and a factory worker and salesman”, member of Parliament Makhosi Khoza learnt to question and became vocal through the teachings of her blind grandmother.
Now Khoza, 48, has to defend her character from people she “trusted and a (political) party that has been my home from a young age”.
“But nothing that is happening here is new to me; I’ve been here before when I was 13 years old,” she said.
Khoza serves on the National Assembly committee on finance and is a former chairperson of the standing committee on public accounts and finance ( Scopa) in KwaZulu-Natal.
According to the People’s Assembly website, she has more than 20 years of collective experience at public and private sector institutions.
Khoza was born in Edendale, Pietermaritzburg, in a small place called Harewood.
“I grew up very poor and the person who was most instrumental in moulding and building my character was my paternal grandmother. She was blind but she did everything for herself, from knitting her own bedspreads to cooking.”
Khoza and her siblings had to eat from the same bowl, a symbol to her of unity and ubuntu.
“Growing up we did everything together, we couldn’t eat until everyone was there. We used to eat in this big basin associated with the ANC.
“I then became the founder and leader of the Young Natal Organisation of Women and recruited a lot of young girls; then I started questioning things at home, like why I was the one who had to go fetch water and I started protesting,” she chuckled.
“When I was 14 I was arrested. I was one of the speakers at the funeral of workers in the Transport Allied Union in Mount Fletcher. I was wearing my United Democratic Front T-shirt and at that time they had never seen such a young person with so much energy, so political and with such spirit.
“We had about 10 buses that moved from Maritzburg to that funeral because two of our union members were killed in the boycotts in 1983. I delivered the speech and on our way home we were stopped by the security forces.
“They were clearly looking for me and I was arrested with another boy, but he was released soon thereafter.”
Khoza was detained for three months.
“I was locked in solitary confinement, I started playing with ants because there was nothing else to do. It was dark.
“There were older people who spoke at the funeral but they were never arrested. In fact, what is happening to me now is the same thing that happened back then.
“I am now being charged for sending a message to other MPs. (Police Minister Fikile) Mbalula set the tone that I should be punished and that is why I am being charged.
“I am being charged because the ANC Women’s League has portrayed women as somehow having inferior intellect, subservient. I think there is a perception in society that if a woman says something or a child says something, get her back in her place.
“I believed any injustice, no matter who came with the injustice, I had to fight against it,” she said.
After her arrest, Khoza was harassed by IFP members and she left home.
In 1986, Khoza was almost killed by her comrades when she tried to save the life of another young woman.
“I was going to the comrades’ stronghold called Moscow and when I got off from the taxi I saw this crowd of people and a flame and I saw the comrades burning this girl.
“I didn’t even ask questions but I tried to put out the fire and my comrades wanted to burn me too.
“They said I was a spy,” she recalled.
“Now I am feeling betrayed again by my comrades and it’s for choosing the people over President Jacob Zuma.
“And they have the audacity… the leadership came and told us to vote and defend Zuma, to me that was an insult.
“After I posted that moral post on my Facebook wall I started getting death threats, and all sorts of things happened.”