NEWS

Why Makhosi Khoza Is A Dilemma The ANC Can't Afford

If the party tries to oust her, it could have the same impact as when Jacob Zuma axed former finance minister Pravin Gordhan.

21/07/2017 06:19 SAST | Updated 21/07/2017 07:39 SAST

ANALYSIS

ANC MP Makhosi Khoza presents a catch 22 for the ruling party.

She stands dead-centre on a scale between the party's vow for renewed integrity and a growing trend of calling anyone who does not toe the party line ill-disciplined.

Khoza, whose name was put forward for parliament by the ANC's KwaZulu-Natal branch, which has now turned against her, has garnered mounting support from various sectors of society since she began speaking out against President Jacob Zuma and issues plaguing the ANC, like corruption.

If the party were to strike her down with disciplinary action, it may suffer similar detrimental effects as it did when it axed Pravin Gordhan as finance minister earlier this year, sparking nationwide protests.

On the other side of the coin, Khoza placed herself on a pedestal as a shining example of putting South Africa before her party when she remained in support of having a vote of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma under secret ballot.

Perhaps, her unwavering determination on this matter may be contagious – something the ANC under Zuma cannot afford.

Calls for Khoza to be disciplined
The party will also have to consider calls from within its own ranks for Khosa to be reprimanded. The ANC in KZN and the ANC Youth League in the province -- both of which are staunch Zuma allies -- have both been brutally critical of her actions, saying she should "face the consequences".

But the party will also run the risk of being classified as hypocritical.

During the ANC's National Policy Conference, it tabled a self-critical diagnostic report which highlighted a growing trust deficit between the people and the movement and a need to uphold ethics and values.

In the report, the party says in attempting to be transparent about their challenges, it does not own up and show an ability to rise to the occasion. It says cadres of the movement should be "guided by the values of honesty, humility, hard work, commitment, sacrifice and selflessness".

One can argue that Khoza, by confronting her party on its challenges, is conforming to the code the party says it is trying to prescribe to. But in doing so, she has been categorized as "ill-disciplined" by ANC members like Police Minister Fikile Mbalula, Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe and Chief Whip Jackson Mthembu.

Some ANC delegates at the conference also pushed for the Commission on Economic Transformation to recommend that ANC NEC member Derek Hanekom be hauled before a disciplinary committee for allegedly insulting delegates, calling their recommendations on land reform "nonsense".

How MPs are supposed to behave
Does it then mean that presenting an opposing view to the majority Zuma faction in the ANC or calling Zuma out directly are the only requirements for being deemed as ill-disciplined?

But parliament's code is clear. Members should act with selflessness and integrity, taking decisions "solely in terms of public interest" and avoiding placing themselves under any obligation to any outside individual or organization where this creates a conflict or potential conflict of interest with his or her role as a member of parliament.

It is partly for this reason, of allowing members to vote in line with their conscience and not with the line of the party, that Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng set aside Baleka Mbete's refusal of prescribing a secret ballot to a vote of no confidence in Zuma.

Again, does prescribing to parliament's code deem Khoza as ill-disciplined?

Threats of being raked over the coals from within the party, and death threats set against her and members of her family, have earned Khoza the sympathy of the public. Civil society organisations, who gathered in their hundred on Tuesday, greeted her with admiration and classed her as a "hero".

Opposition parties like the Democratic Alliance have also come out in Khoza's defense, reportedly writing to Mbalula to request that he provide VIP protection for her.

But not everyone has shown the same compassion.

The ANC Women's League, who have been mum thus far, told the Huff Post SA on Thursday that Khoza is not a member of the Women's League so they will not take any action.

"If she has an issue with the organisation she represents, that's a matter between her and her organization," ANCWL spokesperson Toko Xasa said.

After being pushed for comment on the death threats Khoza faces, Xasa eventually said the league is "concerned with any member of society being threatened" and that they are "happy" that Mbalula "has done something".

Whichever side the coin lands on, however, it is clear Khoza will not back down.

Not going to "die silently"
In her most recent Facebook post, Khoza said she made a conscious decision when she received the death threats that she was "not going to die silently".

"Whilst many of my comrades support me; some have come after me, accused me of sedition as they have chosen to side with those that would hurt me, our movement and indeed murder of our nation... I have been singled out as a troublemaker by those that would have me go quiet. I have been accused of extreme ill-discipline for standing for what I believe," she wrote.

"Women appear to have a different justice system in the ANC as so many ANC leaders have spoken publicly against the President. Well, am I being disciplined for occupying my legitimate seat in an equal society?"

She said now is not the time for her to retreat.