Johannesburg - Factional battles within the ANC have allowed “ill discipline” to flourish. This is the view of political analyst Bheki Mngomezulu.
He was speaking about the KwaZulu-Natal ANC having taken a decision to institute disciplinary measures against MP Makhosi Khoza.
“It took long for the ANC to act because disciplining her would have seemed like she is being targeted on factional lines, not because she broke the rules of the organisation,” Mngomezulu claimed.
He said that judging by Khoza’s conduct, it was obvious that “it would come to this point”.
Mngomezulu said the ANC had been strategic in not acting on the matter promptly.
“It would have been easy to say action has been taken because she is in the faction that wants (President Jacob) Zuma out, not because she didn’t follow party rules,” he said.
He suggested the matter be handled in a delicate manner.
“Any negligence in handling this issue will have a negative impact on the entire ANC.
“Remember the ANC in KZN is not acting in isolation,” Mngomezulu said.
He said the party was clear that members could not take decisions that were against party directives and that the ANC in KZN is handling the matter only because Khoza was their deployee to Parliament.
“It is standard procedure in every political party that once a party takes a position, members vote according to the party position because they are in Parliament to execute the mandate of the party,” he said.
Mngomezulu said MPs could raise issues during discussions within the party but they would injure party unity if they spoke out independently against a party directive in public.
Luthuli House launched a blistering attack on its outspoken MP on Wednesday, when it said she had behaved like a “runaway fire”.
Khoza’s home province of KZN was even more scathing, charging her with indiscipline - a move that could result in her being withdrawn from Parliament if found guilty.
Khoza has in recent months broken ranks with the party and openly campaigned for a vote of no confidence against party president Zuma to be conducted through a secret ballot on August 8.
The latest attack on Khoza came after she shared a public platform with some of the fiercest critics of Zuma at Rhema Bible Church and joined them in their call for him to step down.
ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa on Wednesday slammed Khoza for showing gross disrespect to the party’s disciplinary code.
“Dr Khoza was a delegate at the party’s policy conference where a number of issues were discussed including state capture. A number of people spoke out against corruption at the conference.
“If you are a loyal member of the ANC, you would raise some of your concerns internally in the organisation. You can’t behave like a runaway fire.
“The actions of Dr Khoza are to weaken the ANC and to put the image of the ANC into disrepute,” Kodwa said.
He said people like Khoza were expected to advance the ANC’s agenda of social change, adding that her elevation to Parliament meant that the ANC had trusted her with the responsibility of being the “most developed to understand the disciplinary code of the ANC”.
“We know that some of the ANC members were being courted to cross to the opposition. They are pushing the ANC to the limit to force the party to act. We are not going to act recklessly.
“If we act, the party was going to appear to be intolerant to different views. It is shameless to share public platforms with the critics of the ANC,” Kodwa said.
But Kodwa nonetheless ruled out the possibility of bringing action against Khoza and similar ANC members, saying it was premature to do so.
Kodwa said Khoza’s action were aimed at discrediting the ANC before leaving “for higher echelons” in one of the opposition parties. But he declined to reveal the name of that party.
The ANC KZN, however, did not pull any punches in dealing with Khoza. It said in a statement that she was arrogant and the province would institute disciplinary measures against its parliamentary representative.
In the statement issued by provincial spokesperson Mdumiseni Ntuli, the party said Khoza was not immune to the political discipline of the ANC.
KZN also accused Khoza of being part of a “convergence of forces” working to remove Zuma and ultimately the ANC from government. “Her public stunt and participation in platforms intended to replace the societal leadership role of the ANC constitutes a blatant betrayal of the core values of the ANC.
“Accordingly, the ANC provincial working committee has directed the ANC provincial officials to urgently and immediately institute disciplinary measures against comrade Makhosi,” Ntuli said.
ANC provincial secretary Super Zuma said the matter had been referred to the disciplinary committee and the process would start soon.
“She will be taken to a disciplinary hearing. Once the DC takes a decision, then that decision will be implemented by the organisation,” said Zuma.
Parliament on Tuesday provided extra security for Khoza following a series of death threats. Unfazed about the possible danger to her, she has continued urging parliamentarians to pass a vote of no confidence in Zuma next month.
Kodwa maintained that his party’s parliamentarians would not vote with the opposition, without saying what actions would be taken against members that defy the instruction.
“We do not want to pre-empt what is going to happen post-August 8 but ANC members would not vote with the opposition to oust its president,” Kodwa said.
He, however, hinted that in the past the ANC had acted severely against ANC members who had behaved similarly to Khoza. Kodwa made reference to ANC councillors in Tlokwe Municipality - who voted alongside the DA to remove an ANC councillor and mayor Maphetle Maphetle in July 2013.
On Wednesday night, Khoza did not respond to calls and SMSes.