No-confidence debate: I love the ANC but I worship my country

I am here to defend the party's mission, not a dishonourable leader, says senior ANC MP Makhosi Khoza

23 July 2017 - 00:08 By MAKHOSI KHOZA
Makhosi Khoza.
Makhosi Khoza.

I've been associated with the ANC since I was 12 years old. I was taught to respect leadership directives. I was also taught to be compassionate and respect the will of the people.

I'm a disciplined and loyal member of the ANC and I take its constitution as my political moral signature.

However, I have reached a point where circumstances dictate that I question the relevance of the principle of democratic centralism.

This is the dilemma I have:

What if such leadership directives are morally and ethically bankrupt?

What if such directives are directionless?

What if such directives reflect arrogance, dishonesty, denialism and injudiciousness in that very democratically elected leadership collective?

What if such directives betray the organisational mission of the people's parliament from which the ANC was founded?

When I joined the ANC, I committed myself, in terms of rule 4(17), to the following: "I am joining voluntarily and without motives of material advantage or personal gain."

I still uphold this commitment. Can the same be said of, specifically, my president?

When my ANC leadership collective says we should ignore South Africa's constitution and its citizens' call for the removal of an amoral president, what do I do as an MP who is a product of a proportional system, but who took the oath individually to respect and uphold that constitution?

These are the contradictions when one has to decide to follow either the people, or a directive to protect a man who has defaced the ANC.

What kind of country would tolerate such a leader, one who giggles, with no comprehension of the excruciating pain he is causing to those he is meant to lead and protect?

I am here to defend the ANC mission, not a dishonourable and disgraceful leader. I am here because I love the ANC but I worship my country and the African continent.

I joined the ANC as a vehicle to make my country and continent better, not vice versa.

I am here to help rescue the little — if any — that is left of my organisation's moral conscience, in defiance of a leadership that takes the people for granted.

I am here because I am a servant of the people and not an operative of the Guptas or anyone ruled by their selfish interests.

I am here to defend my people from a leader who portrays us as a people who share collective stupidity.

I am here because as an African feminist I find being led by a man who harvests women intolerable.

I'm here because my leadership collective wants people to think none of us cares.

I care.

I'm here because I have for too long feared being viewed as ill-disciplined, and have subjected myself to leadership decisions that render me a docile object who possesses no reasoning prowess, sharing responsibility for crafting a perfidious narrative.

I'm told: trivialise Cosatu's rejection of the president's address in the Free State.

I'm told: see white monopoly capital in the leaked Gupta e-mails implicating a significant number of ANC cabinet members.

I'm told: ignore the fruitless and wasteful expenditure on the passenger rail agency's procurement of locomotives unsuited for local rail.

I have been a slave of my president's lies for too long. I am tired of attempts to capture the National Treasury and the Reserve Bank.

This is a president who appears to promote tribalism. He has made some amaZulu to feel as though they are more special than other language groups. Mr President, tribalism has no place in my ANC.

We are divided along tribal lines because my president would settle on no one but his ex-wife as his successor. Notwithstanding Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma's talent, experience and leadership skills, her presidency would undermine social cohesion. South Africans honestly need a break from a Zuma presidency.

The ANC demise is at President Zuma's hands. Nobody wants to be led by a president whose main phrase is "angazi" (I do not know).

All challenges are blamed on somebody else.

When citizens peacefully march to plead with him to step down, Mr President calls them racist. He has mastered the art of destroying institutions.

This is a president who, when black intellectuals express views he doesn't agree with, sarcastically labels them "clever blacks". I am black, I am clever, I am smart and I am educated. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a clever black.

This is more racist than Verwoerd's assumption that as black Africans, mathematics is not for us. We understand mathematics.

This is a president who has made us feel awkward for being black and smart. He has become a curse on our children and nation.

This is a president who seems to yearn to be king. His Nkandla homestead gives us a glimpse of the president's royalty mentality.

In case I do not make it to the no-confidence debate on August 8 2017, Mr President, know that your stay as president haunts South Africans.

The attempt to silence me has made me value the few days left. Hence, I am addressing you, Mr President.

Please, Mr President, step down. South Africa no longer needs you. Please save South Africa! Save the economy!

Mr President, it is extremely difficult to root out corruption while you are there.

Your reputation with women is not good. Please, we need a president who sees women as intellectuals, revolutionaries and human beings, not just a means to fulfil sexual desire.

Save ANC MPs from having to follow the leadership collective decision to defend you at all costs rather than follow the constitution and vote against you.

Khoza is a KwaZulu-Natal ANC MP. This is an edited version of the notes for a speech she delivered at the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation this week


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