ANC MP Makhosi Khoza is being charged by an ANC disciplinary committee after calling for President Jacob Zuma to step down. Since her stinging criticism of the party she has faced death threats and baseless rumours. She’s been shunned by senior members of the ANC, with Fikile Mbalula labelling her ‘a suicide bomber’. Political reporter Dineo Bendile spoke to a defiant Khoza.
Are you surprised by the calls from the KwaZulu-Natal provincial executive committee (PEC) and the chief whip for you to be disciplined for speaking out against the president?
Maybe I can understand the KwaZulu-Natal situation because I know them; I know the people who are there. In fact, the structure that has charged me [the PEC] is battling to prove its legitimacy because the branches took PEC members to court as they believed they rigged elections. I expected that they would do that because that’s how they do things. They always do things that fly against morality and ethics.
Do you think you are being treated harshly because you are a woman?
I am receiving harsh treatment firstly because I’m from KwaZulu-Natal – because there is a notion that KwaZulu-Natal is homogenous and that we are all behind the president. Secondly, it’s a well-known fact that the ANC tends to be harsher with women. Take [former communications minister] Dina Pule, for example. Dina is no longer in that position, but we still have the president. Why has the president not gone through the same structures that saw Dina disciplined? There is a trend that we see in the ANC where they are harsher to women.
Even the ANC Women’s League in KwaZulu-Natal has criticised you. What do you make of its comments?
The ANC Women’s League … I don’t think we share the same school of thought. I’m a feminist and I’m not sure they believe in that. I’m not a member of the women’s league. What kind of women’s league will cite something in a statement about education as if we are wrong for being educated? We have a president calling us “clever blacks” and the ANC Women’s League says I think I’m better because I’m educated. Don’t expect me to give you a logical response to what’s going on. It’s bizarre.
You’ve called for a secret ballot in the motion of no confidence against the president. Will you vote in favour of the motion if it’s open?
Let me tell you something: what is happening to me is a message to ANC MPs that you dare [not vote in favour of the motion of no confidence]. They didn’t want to charge me nationally because [Derek] Hanekom, the chairperson of the disciplinary committee, came to my defence. So they are sending KwaZulu-Natal, an illegitimate structure, to discipline me because there’s an urgency for me to be charged as a message to all other ANC members.
But the question still stands: Will you support a motion of no confidence in the president if the vote is open?
I believe in the consistency of one’s principles. I will never change my principles. If I have to be facing the music, so be it. If I have to face the consequences, so be it. But I think the writing is already on the wall.
Do you really believe that you’re going to be fired after your disciplinary hearing?
They’ve already said so. I’m going to appear before a disciplinary committee that has already decided that I’ll be fired. In any case, there is this sense [by some leaders] of owning this ANC. But I have a share of this history and even if I get out, I’m getting out with it.
If you are fired, will you try to fight dismissal?
To be honest with you, I’m still a member of the ANC and I’m still going to try to reason with them. I’m going to remind them that, by the way, we are left with one metro if you exclude Mangaung and Buffalo City. We are left with one metro, which is Ethekwini. Now why are you charging people when they are pointing to the root of the problem? If they fire me, there’s nothing I can do. But the agenda of Africa cannot be left to those people who are there. They don’t feel the pain we are feeling.
Are you still receiving death threats for your vocal stance?
I get a countdown every day. And yesterday they phoned me to say: “Do yourself a favour: go and apologise before the disciplinary committee.” I’m not going to apologise. If they kill me, so be it. I’m not going to apologise.