Johannesburg - Until early this year, 18-year-old Maja Sharp was not really interested in politics. Then came former ANC MP Makhosi Khoza, with her rabble-rousing criticism of the governing party for its failure to rein in President Jacob Zuma for his alleged role in state capture and other misdemeanours.
Maja was captivated, impressed with Khoza’s bravery and her stance against corruption, among her other principles.
On Friday Maja was among the 150-plus people who converged at the Maths Centre in Braamfontein for the founding conference of the African Democratic Change (ADeC), Khoza’s political party.
“I was never politically active before and not politically aware. I then saw her (Khoza) in Parliament and she always looked like a formidable leader,” said Maja.
“She was always this person who blew the lid on (sic) corruption, and she is somebody I feel I could trust.
"You know the whole Zuma thing going on these days and she was among the people standing up against him. It was a courageous and brave thing.”
Maja's hair was dyed in the ADeC’s dominant sky blue, which anchors the yellow, green and black - the ANC’s traditional colours - on the logo.
And instead of the ANC’s spear on its logo, the party's symbol features a hand holding a flaming torch.
To members like Maja, Khoza might well be the proverbial lady with the lamp.
“Her (Khoza’s) vision and principles are around empowering women and the youth, and as a young female, they are aligning with mine. So it’s perfect for me, and I don’t feel like I am coming to a party and compromised on some things.
"Everything she says, I fully resonate with and understand. I am incredibly convinced,” said Maya.
Despite her fierce criticism of the ANC, Khoza has adopted the ANC’s Freedom Charter, which was part of the literature distributed at the conference.
Portraits of ANC struggle stalwarts Oliver Tambo, Fatima Meer and Charlotte Maxeke as well as Black Consciousness Movement leader Steve Biko adorned the hall.
The new kid on the block has drawn members from the ANC and its breakaway formations such as Cope and the EFF, as well as Agang, the DA and the National Freedom Party, as well as various community based formations.
Launching a new political party in South Africa today is akin to treading where angels fear to tread, but Khoza seems resolute and undeterred.
“I know the political analysts are saying ‘Why form another small party?" and "It’s an ego thing". I say I don’t know where these analysts live because we live in situations that are different (to them),” she said.
She reminded her detractors that the ANC had lost the jewel metros of Tshwane and Joburg, as well as Nelson Mandela Bay, because its current leaders had deviated from the moral and ethical leadership style of the likes of Nelson Mandela and Tambo.
“It’s important that we should not repeat the mistakes of the ruling party. Greed and crass materialism manifest themselves in in all forms of social ills because of corruption.”
She reiterated her views that part of the corruption bedevilling the ANC was because its leaders felt they were entitled to looting because they took part in the liberation Struggle. “If we start on a wrong footing and our foundation is weak, (we’ll fail)," she said.
Khoza warned against self-righteousness and egotism, which she said had been costly to parties like Cope.
Also read: MP Makhosi Khoza breaks ranks
“We also have to deal with authoritarian leadership style where leaders are absolute,” she said, citing the EFF’s “militaristic structure”.
ADeC’s role was to take the people of South Africa out from under the “dark cloud of shame, shattered dreams and aspirations” inflicted on them by the ANC, she said.
Part of Khoza’s political currency is unity across racial lines and an inclusive economic policy.
There’s a touch of black consciousness about the ADeC.
"For us to talk about human dignity (means) we’ve to restore African languages. One of the things that the world hasn’t learnt from Africa is Ubuntu.
“I am going to warn you, it’s going to be tough," she said.