Reading the full speech of ANC MP Dr Makhosi Khoza published recently, I could not help but think that South Africa could certainly use a few more people like her who are willing to speak the truth to power. If the ANC had more members of parliament (MPs) like Dr Khoza, then South Africans could get on with the much-needed work that is required to make South Africa a country we all can be proud of. If politicians can be trusted to act in the best interest of the country, then we can all work together towards economic parity, create conditions where every person inside our borders are safe, find solutions for the challenges climate change has brought and do everything we can to ensure that we leave our country a better place for generations to come.
Instead, we are dealing with a governing party that is seemingly more preoccupied with the lint in its belly button than with running a corruption-free government for the benefit of all its people. Parliament is not doing everything in its power to bring about a better South Africa; instead, parliamentarians will once again be spending their time on yet another no-confidence vote, because of the ill-conceived actions of their President. It is probably true that the height of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result. However, it is imperative that the opposition parties bring as many no-confidence votes as the actions of President Zuma warrant.
It will be a good day when more ANC members of parliament like Dr Makhosi Khoza step up to defend our democratic principles.
Political junkies, like myself, came to appreciate the competent way Dr Khoza chaired the process to appoint the new public prosecutor and her astute questioning during the SABC parliamentary enquiry. However, it was after her address at the Mandela Day Conference for the Future of South Africa that she became something very special. For me, Dr Khoza has now become the embodiment of what none other than Nelson Mandela once described as "a good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special."
Member of Parliament Khoza has shown courage and fortitude over the last couple of weeks and it cannot be praised enough, especially as the ANC has obviously not yet transitioned from a liberation movement into a political party that governs the country for the benefit of its people. This became clear when Secretary General Gwede Mantashe replied to the opposition parties' motion of no confidence in parliament that "No army in the world allows soldiers to be commanded by [an] enemy general" and it gave us a rare but frightening peek into the workings of the ANC.
Asking ANC members always to toe the party line regardless of their personal moral dictates loses sight of the fact that their members at some stage of their lives seeking out the ANC as their political home because they could reconcile the values of the party with their own. Expecting that ANC MPs now vote with the party when it has obviously veered off its own principled course is no different to the way criminal gangs, so pervasive in our society, are run.
Wanting party members to follow orders, without insisting that such members reflect and reconcile the order with their own beliefs is disrespectful, just like criminal gangs expect their members to adhere to the directives of the gang boss, regardless of the values their mothers taught them and their own morals. Similarly, the ANC is expecting its MPs to follow party instructions irrespective of their conscience. By doing that, the ANC seems to suggest that its leadership knows what is best and that mature MPs should demurely follow them without thinking or reflecting whether what is being asked of them squares with their own convictions, an audacity that is breathtaking in its boldness.
If President Zuma prevails on 8 August, then the ANC MPs 2017 will go down in history as choosing a party and a president over the well-being of the country and its citizens
Member of Parliament Khoza has shown temerity in calling out the ANC leadership that expects her to defend a President who, in her eyes, has lost all credibility and for whom she cannot in clear conscience vote. Even though MPs were voted in on the party list system, they took their oath of allegiance to the Constitution of South Africa and as such, the ANC cannot expect its members to have left their brains at home and become Stepford wives as soon as they entered Parliament.
The ANC uses the clenched fist as its symbol. Now that only a few ANC MPs are speaking up against a fatuous leader, all the ANC MPs must be reminded that the clenched fist symbolises strength and unity because individual fingers are fragile. However, it is not unity with a President who has lost all credibility, but unity with all who are speaking up against a President and the ANC leadership who have lost their moral high ground. For if all those who find their values at odds with those of the President stand together and unite, then no individual can be punished or ostracized.
A call on ANC members of parliament to grow a backbone and vote according to their conscience during the no-confidence vote scheduled for 8 August 2017, whether by secret ballot or not, may seem foolhardy because many MPs have their livelihoods at stake. However, they must be reminded that their vote for President Zuma to remain in power will be judged harshly by history. If President Zuma prevails on 8 August, then the ANC MPs 2017 will go down in history as choosing a party and a president over the well-being of the country and its citizens. Now is not the time to be whistling past the graveyard, but it is time for ANC MPs to unite with their colleague Honourable Khoza and give effect to the will of the many South Africans who took to the streets on 7 April 2017.
ANC MPs should be reminded of the words that Mama Ruth Mompati once told me: "the soil of so many African countries are drenched with the blood of young people who gave their lives to ensure our democratic dispensation" and may I add, for the privilege parliamentarians enjoy to serve the people of South Africa.