African National Congress (ANC) MP Makhosi Khoza, a strident critic of scandal-plagued President Jacob Zuma, quit South Africa’s ruling party on Thursday, labelling Nelson Mandela’s 105-year-old liberation movement “alien and corrupt”.
The 47-year-old Zulu linguistics expert, an ANC supporter since the age of 12, denounced Zuma in July as a “dishonourable and disgraceful leader” due to the litany of scandals he has attracted during his eight years in power.
Her comments earned her death threats and a provincial party disciplinary hearing, but Khoza said she was not prepared to sit around and wait for its verdict, saying the decision to go after her, and not Zuma, was the final straw.
“Why haven’t we charged Zuma? Why are we charging Makhosi Khoza? We are making a mockery of the rule of law. We are making a mockery of the ANC constitution,” Khoza said in an interview on the SABC, the state broadcaster.
“Charge Zuma. Fire Zuma from the ANC, then I will know that you are serious about self-correcting.”
Khoza is believed to have been one of around 30 ANC members of parliament who voted against Zuma in an ultimately unsuccessful Aug. 8 parliamentary no-confidence vote conducted by secret ballot.
The ANC was not immediately available for comment.
The most serious allegations against Zuma relate to his friendship with the Guptas, a family of Indian-born businessmen accused of using political influence to secure lucrative contracts with state-run companies.
Zuma and the Guptas, who employ Zuma’s son, Duduzane, as a director of at least one of their companies, have denied any wrongdoing and say they are the victims of a politically motivated witch-hunt.
Several other high-profile ANC MPs, including former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas and three former ministers ousted in a cabinet reshuffle this year, have resigned from parliament but not torn up their party cards, as Khoza has done.
She predicted that more would follow in her footsteps and hoped it would reverse the decline that has set in the so-called Rainbow Nation under Zuma.
“We can’t have South Africa going the same route as every failed state in Africa,” she said.
Zuma’s time at the helm of the ANC comes to an end in December when the party chooses a new leader, although he will remain head of state until the expiry of his second and final term in early 2019 unless the ANC removes him, as it did to President Thabo Mbeki in 2008.
As Khoza departed, Zuma’s former wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was sworn in as a member of parliament, cementing the belief that she is his preferred successor against challengers led by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The parliamentary seat gives Dlamini-Zuma, the former chairwoman of the African Union Commission in Addis Ababa, a platform from which to raise her profile ahead of a party leadership conference in December.
Reporting by Ed Cropley and Nqobile Dludla; editing by Andrew Roche