From Mantashe to Mbalula, Makhosi Khoza lays into ANC heavyweights

04 February 2021 - 14:03
Former ANC MP Makhosi Khoza was testifying at the Zondo commission on Thursday. File photo
Former ANC MP Makhosi Khoza was testifying at the Zondo commission on Thursday. File photo
Image: SIPHIWE SIBEKO

A number of ANC national leaders on Thursday caught stray bullets from Makhosi Khoza's onslaught on the governing party.

Khoza, a former ANC MP, was testifying at the Zondo commission about how the governing party's parliamentary caucus conducted its affairs during her time as a member.

According to Khoza, ANC MPs were “hell-bent” on protecting then president Jacob Zuma at all costs, a stance she was strongly opposed to.

Even those, like NEC member Fikile Mbalula, who now acted like they were anti-Zuma, were once his biggest praise-singers, said Khoza.

Khoza said she was hounded out of the ANC for insisting that ANC members stop protecting the scandal-prone Zuma who was costing the party, as was the case in the 2016 local government elections when the party lost control of the country's major cities such as Tshwane and Johannesburg.

Having served the ANC at local government and provincial level in KwaZulu-Natal, Khoza graduated to national politics after the 2014 general elections when she became an ANC backbencher in parliament.

But she quickly climbed up the ranks into serious positions such as chairing the public service and administration portfolio committee.

Khoza told the Zondo commission that she became increasingly irritated with the ANC when she realised most of its MPs were not interested in doing what is right.

Among those who frustrated her, she said, were then ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe and his deputy Jessie Duarte who were not MPs but addressed the ANC caucus “every Thursday”, especially ahead of the many motions of no confidence against Zuma.

“The challenge that you had was people who were not members coming in to instruct us to violate the constitution,” Khoza charged.

“At this particular caucus meeting on August 8 2017, Gwede Mantashe said we have a danger of becoming a 'judiocracy'. In other words there was no respect of the independence of the judiciary and the view was that it was now taking the powers of running the country.”

Khoza said the problem had started long before 2017 during the time Stone Sizani was the chief whip.

“Stone Sizani was clearly not as appreciative of the critical importance of parliamentary oversight over the executive. He never took it kindly when we criticised members of the executive. He would remind us not to speak like the opposition when speaking to ministers.”

The situation had improved when Jackson Mthembu replaced Sizani, she said.

But Mthembu too was more “loyal to the party”.

“Jackson Mthembu was conflicted, on one hand he wanted us to do the right thing but on another he was a party loyalist.”

Khoza, owing to her insistence that the party should act against Zuma, faced attacks from party leaders.

She recalled how Mbalula had once referred to her as a “suicide bomber”.

Khoza said that at the ANC policy conference in June 2017, Mbalula had threatened ANC MPs wishing to vote according to their conscience, comparing them to suicide bombers. “He even mentioned my name calling me a suicide bomber.”

Khoza said Mbalula was not the only ANC leader to speak out against ANC MPs voting with their “conscience” against Zuma. The likes of Mantashe and then ANC deputy chief whip Doris Dlakude also did so.

“Doris Dlakude did say that there are some comrades who are saying they will vote according to conscience and she was saying none of the comrades came to parliament because of conscience. She was saying we must divorce ourselves from conscience and follow party instruction,” said Khoza.

She was also “disappointed” that current ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa, then Zuma's deputy, had failed to consistently be part of the anti-Zuma offensive.

This more so after Ramaphosa and former ANC treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize “backtracked” having criticised Zuma after he fired finance minister Nhlanhla Nene and replaced him with Des van Rooyen.

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