African National Congress MP Makhosi Khoza lashed out at her party on Friday after a statement issued by the office of the chief whip that said she was “highly out of order” and had embarked on a publicity campaign at the party’s just-concluded National Policy Conference (NPC).
“I will not be their sacrificial lamb,” she told the African News Agency via telephone in response to the statement from Jackson Mthembu, issued on Friday afternoon.
Khoza said that on Friday morning, Mthembu had asked her if she was prepared to face the consequences of her actions at the NPC.
“I know they are going to charge me, he told me so, but he never told me he would be releasing this statement,” she said.
In the statement, Mthembu said the party condemned the fact that Khoza “chose to run her own media conference on the sidelines of the NPC”.
“Comrade Khoza was invited to the NPC as a member of the ANC Parliamentary Caucus, and was therefore highly out of order to engage in parallel activities on the sidelines of the NPC on content that had nothing to do with the NPC itself,” he said.
Khoza told eNCA at the conference that she had written to Baleka Mbete, speaker of parliament, to request that she “apply her mind” in deciding on a secret ballot in a motion of no confidence vote in president Jacob Zuma because she was the recipient of frequent threats. She was still awaiting a response, she told ANA.
In Friday’s statement, Mthembu said the party was on record as saying its MPs were expected to vote according to the party line against a motion of no confidence in the president.
“We have consistently been on record that we will not vote with the opposition to remove our ANC government from office, immaterial whether such a motion is voted upon through an open or secret ballot.
“Noting the above, ANC MP comrade Dr Makhosi Khoza has gone on a publicity spree in the past week stating that she will not toe the party line when voting in the upcoming motion in Parliament,” he said.
Mthembu said Khoza had “cast aspersions” on ANC MPs with her interviews by saying she doubted the ruling party’s MPs had the “necessary morality to make their own decisions”.
He said the party took “serious exception” to the statement, which questioned the calibre of ANC MPs.
Khoza told ANA that she respected Mthembu and was not questioning his authority, but that he had not taken into context the circumstances surrounding her statements.
“I was speaking in response to what [Police Minister Fikile] Mbalula had said,” she said.
At the conference, Mbalula likened those in the ANC who would vote against the party line to “suicide bombers”. Khoza said she was asked by broadcaster eNCA if she had a comment on what Mbalula had said and gave one.
“If a member of the ANC and the minister of police equates what people like myself said as suicide bombers – [people like me] who are under constant death threats, who are under constant intimidation – who is going to protect me when the police have not even acted on the two criminal cases that I have opened?” she said.
Despite requests for bodyguards, Khoza said she had had no reply on this from Mbete.
She said that nowhere in his statement had Mthembu mentioned that he told her he would also be speaking to Mbalula about his statements.
“I am not going to be a sacrificial lamb … where people want to portray me as some ill-disciplined person,” she said.
She said Mthembu appeared to be under pressure to pronounce against her in order to have a reason to lay charges.
“I told him [Mthembu] I was ready to face the consequences and told him what the context of my statements had been,” she said.
She said she would be writing a response on her Facebook page, “because it is the only platform I can use”.