ANC MP Makhosi Khoza has said she would not run for presidency of the ANC even if she were nominated because of deep-rooted "patronage politics" in the party.
She said removing President Jacob Zuma would not entirely solve the party's problems.
"Patronage politics have gone so deep, such that, even if we were to remove Zuma alone, I honestly don't think it would solve the problem," Khoza said.
The ANC member, who is currently being charged with ill-discipline, was speaking during an exclusive interview with HuffPost SA on Thursday.
"Now that I am being charged like this, those are the very people that I will have to be presiding over. If I am going to be presiding over people who have such a twisted way of thinking and looking at reality, I wouldn't like to be a president on that platform," Khoza said.
"I will continue fighting. I know that they (the ANC) want to fire me. I am looking at different options. It is either I'm going to become part of the civil movement or I will go back to hardcore politics. But I do think that South Africa deserves better."
Khoza opened up about why she began supporting a secret ballot in a vote of no confidence in Zuma. She said she began speaking out on issues within the ANC as far back as 2012.
During her tenure in the executive committee of the ANC in Pietermaritzburg, where she was both the spokesperson for the party and the chairperson of the standing committee on public accounts, Khoza said she began observing tendencies in the party relating to patronage politics.
"We decided during elections in 2011 to recall the executive. We removed the mayor, deputy, the speaker and other members implicated in the collapse of the municipality... I was the spokesperson, I was the propagandist, I was the one that was talking to members of the community," Khoza said.
"Soon after elections, the ANC then decided they are going to put back one of the people we had removed before elections... I started speaking out. I tried speaking at the [provincial executive committee], I was defeated. I was a lone voice... I called on his resignation. I think the ANC was not happy with me 'cause in 2012, I was removed."
Khoza left politics for two years, but branch members in the province voted her back into the party.
"I love people. People give me meaning in life. The issue of being of service is something I was socialised in from very, very young. That made me go into Parliament as a backbencher. Already there were signs the ANC was going into decline," Khoza said.
"From 2014 until early 2017, we had seven votes of no confidences in the president. Each time, during those seven, I followed the directives of the leadership because I did not want to be seen as supporting the opposition... But the defining moment to me was the day I drove to Pietermaritzburg on the seventh of April 2017."
Hundreds of thousands of South Africans marched together calling for Zuma to be sacked on that day. It came after the president's midnight reshuffle, where then finance minister Pravin Gordhan and his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas, were axed.
"That kind of march I last saw in the 1980s, when we were protesting against Mike Gatting in Pietermaritzburg... That to me left a very important mark. I realised that some members of the ANC were really calling people participating in a march racists and counter-revolutionary forces. That's the time I decided that I'm not going to keep quiet anymore and I wrote that infamous Facebook article about leadership," Khoza said.
"I felt we were being told that we still have to defend the president, notwithstanding the fact that it was no longer just about opposition politics affecting just the 400 members in the chamber, but now you had entire communities saying no."
Khoza said she always believed the people were most important to the ANC.
"There was an antithesis here, there was something that was paradoxical about this, something that did not resonate well with the mission of the ANC... I could not understand why would we defy millions of South Africans?
"When you have those people standing up and voicing their concerns, why do you ignore them? I am where I am now because I started choosing people over an immoral president."