Makhosi Khoza: ‘If I hadn’t left the ANC, I’d be six feet under now’
The political environment is ‘vicious’ to women, says former ANC MP, but even worse inside the ruling party
Outspoken former ANC MP Makhosi Khoza says if she had stayed on in the ANC, she would have been six feet under by now. Khoza spoke to Times Select on Mandela Day about her life after retiring from politics and how it felt to leave the organisation she served since she was 12 years old.
Khoza said she had no regrets about leaving the ANC and has learned valuable lessons from living outside the liberation movement.
“For too long when I was in parliament, I was made to believe that there are white people that are out there to reverse the gains we have made. ‘You black people must be very careful of these white people’, and so forth.”
She said her experience of reality was different. “I went to Emfuleni and Vereeniging. Both these communities were talking the same language. But when I was in parliament I would have believed that these people don’t see eye to eye. People are actually united in seeing that we need to fix our towns,” she said.In September last year Khoza resigned from the ANC after a tumultuous time in parliament where she openly criticised then president Jacob Zuma. Khoza started her own political party, African Democratic Change, which was a dismal failure. In April she retired from politics and later joined the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa). She is the executive director of the local government section of Outa.
Khoza said she has no regrets leaving the ANC and is not ashamed of her failures outside the ruling party.
“I do not think that was a blunder on my part. I believe that [people must] afford me a space to walk my path. Let me make the mistakes [and] learn from them. Don’t prevent me [from starting my own] and say to me I must rather join things that I don’t agree with. Unfortunately, and I think I was naïve, I did not fully appreciate the fact that some people who come and join political parties are actually political entrepreneurs,” she said.Khoza said she has kept her friends in the ANC and they are still in speaking terms. However, she says she had to leave the party or die.
“Believe you me, I am from KwaZulu-Natal. If I remained inside the ANC, in fact, I would be saying it is very cold inside the ANC because I would be six feet underground. A very practical example is Sindiso Magaqa; he went back to the ANC, where is he today? Six feet underground. When I was fighting President Zuma, I was persecuted by the ANC.
“The people who could have killed me were going to be the ANC. The people who would have come to my parents and to my children to donate a big casket and put a big flag and say everything good about me, were going to be the ANC. But it was also going to be the ANC that would have taken my life,” Khoza said.
Khoza still believes there is room for new parties in South Africa, especially those started and led by women. However, she feels the political environment is very “vicious” to women in South Africa.
“It is not easy. That is what many people don’t understand. In politics, it is very difficult for women, especially if you are going to be taking on the big boys. In the opposition, every political party that has been started by a woman has had a very difficult time. Patricial de Lille, where is she? Her ID [Independent Democrats] disappeared. It is very vicious,” Khoza said.
The ANC did not respond to requests for comment.