Khoza resignation could be a risk – or a catalyst for change; Daniel Silke

Political analyst Daniel Silke

CAPE TOWN — Taking a back seat to those with nefarious intent or bravely increasing the chances of a political realignment? That’s the question political analyst Daniel Silke poses in analysing the resignation of courageous ANC MP, Makhosi Khoza. He bemoans her departure from the broad ANC church, as do presidential hopefuls Lindiwe Sisulu and Dr Zweli Mkhize. Speaking on SAFM on Friday, Mkhize signalled his intention to try and beef up the ANC’s internal disciplinary structures to deal with corruption, while sympathising with Khoza‘s dilemma of brooking censure by criticizing her organisation outside its own internal structures. It’s a bit late now. Which is how Khoza defines Ramaphosa’s run for president, when asked if she supports him. She refuses to back him, citing his early silence in the face of rampant corruption during Zuma’s reign. Sisulu sadly regrets Khoza’s departure, saying the ANC needs people like her. More and more it seems, ordinary ANC branch members might be considering comrade Mkhize as a real party presidential option, come December. What does the powerful rural Zulu voting block think of Ramaphosa becoming a billionaire on the back of White capitalists and buying prize buffalo for several million-rand small change? Mkhize doesn’t carry the smell of Marikana, nor has he made billions – and the ANC desperately needs a compromise candidate. – Chris Bateman

By Daniel Silke*

Makhosi Khoza’s resignation from the ANC is a damning indictment of the governing party. It reflects the deepest level of frustration at the extended demise of ethical governance in the country and calls into question whether the ANC in its current composition can ever be rescued.

But, Dr Khoza’s resignation is also a sad day for the country. In turning her back on the ANC, she leaves a political vacuum within her caucus. When a reformer – and maverick – deserts a powerful ruling political entity, no-one is really the winner. The ANC have lost a conscience. They have lost an outspoken proponent of clean government. They have lost an articulate voice in a sea of malfeasance.

Dr Makhosi Khoza, former ANC MP serving in the Portfolio Committee on Economic Development.

Whilst one can never under-estimate the cruel toll that death threats take on political players seen as upsetting the status quo in South Africa, he resignation coming less than 4 months before the ANC’s elective conference suggests a depressing view that even a change of national leadership towards to Ramaphosa faction will be insufficient to turn the party – and South Africa – around.

One would’ve imagined that with such a closely-fought leadership contest and the better-than-average chance of a pragmatic centre emerging victorious, Dr Khoza would’ve seen fit to remain on as unpleasant (and risky) as it might be until December. With this decision – she undermines the role of a reformist element already active within the ANC – without even giving them a chance at a December victory.

Her departure also removed a vocal opponent of President Jacob Zuma from within the caucus – ironically of her own choice rather than being dismissed by the President for party insubordination. It’s an action that does not really help anyone in the short term as a voice of reason is lost at a critical juncture.

With the more pragmatic faction requiring an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ approach from caucus colleagues willing to lobby for Ramaphosa, this removed an important player and will be welcomed by the President’s own support base and his anointed successor.

Similarly, Dr Khoza’s exit is also a demoralising blow to other ANC reformers. As they withstand personal threats and other indignities from within, there is a danger that the moderates could just dissolve outside of the ANC and in so doing, denude the party of a broader. swathe of honourable representation.

When the going gets tough for those with a conscience, they may leave to seek more secure options in more peaceful environs of commerce or industry. This can leave the ANC cleansed of this group and free to pursue and perpetuate current ills.

Indeed, Khoza’s departure is also a signal for responsible and modern younger blood who still see the ANC as an attractive political home to remove themselves from political activism. All political parties need a thriving youth wing or younger professionals with skills to take their movement and the country further. This resignation is a clarion call to those who fall into this category to avoid the ANC – and stay on the side-lines, at lease for the moment.

The corollary of this is if a political movement as strong and historically significant as the ANC cannot hold onto a person of skill and stature as Dr Khoza, it certainly is not the political home for me. The resignation therefore errs on assisting those insiders keen to enhance their grip on power for the wrong reasons to make gains.

But, there is one important political caveat to this critique. If Dr Khoza’s resignation is but a preface in the unfolding book of South Africa’s political future, it may be seen as an early catalyst for a much-needed political realignment.

If Dr Khoza does not remain in the political wilderness and actively contributes to a new movement for change across the existing party divide, she can become a real part of South Africa’s history yet to be written. She can work outside of the emotionally charged parliamentary environment to forge not only new alliances but important policy shifts for a variety of existing political parties. She can act as an interlocutor for the future to secure a different approach to governance.

At the time of writing, she has given no indication of her own future role. But should she be lost to being part of South Africa’s political trajectory, she will be doing the country a disservice. Politics in South Africa is increasingly becoming a theatre of life and death. It’s a dangerous environment in which only the brave will survive. It would be a sad day if those with a conscience take a back seat for those with nefarious intent.

  • Daniel Silke is director of the Political Futures Consultancy and is a noted keynote speaker and commentator. Views expressed are his own. Follow him on Twitter at @DanielSilke or visit his website.
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