I am a patriot and not a puppet, says outspoken Makhosi Khoza

Johannesburg- Former leader of ActionSA in KwaZulu-Natal Dr Makhosi Khoza believes there is something wrong with South African politics where strong black independent thinking women with strong voices are often portrayed as anarchists, saying their assertiveness is often mistaken for aggression.

In an interview with Sunday World, Khoza poured her heart out, digging deep into her political journey, academia, her love for literature, the arts, including how she intends using her new role in the eThekwini metro to tackle fraud and corruption.

“I’m a patriot and not a puppet. I align myself with anything that moves my country forward. I’m not apologetic about who I am. I’m also courageous in that I don’t get intimidated easily. I fight my battles until they are won. I persevere and endure the pain that comes with being an ethical and principled leader. I don’t flip-flop,” she says.

On her recent fallout with party leader Herman Mashaba, Khoza says as a new political party they were going through a process of defining a political identity, saying ideological clashes were bound to happen.

“There is a clash of ideological orientations, primary motive forces, root causes of the country’s problems and methods of fixing South Africa.

Going forward, I’ll advocate that ActionSA seriously consider making space and creating a conducive environment for the independent thinking people like me. This can only strengthen the party,” she adds.

The 51-year-old mother of two who holds a PhD in public administration and a master’s degree in social science from Wits, says it was her personal journey to ensure that ActionSA developed concrete policies that spoke to the South African black majority.

“ActionSA has to recognise the critical importance of the independent thinking South African natives in its fold and as critical drivers of its growth.

“Our problems are not major. They are normal for any new political party at our earliest stages of development,” says the vocal politician with a political career spanning over 35 years.

At the heart of the discord between Khoza and his party is that she accepted the powerful position as chairperson of municipal public accounts committee (Mpac)  after being voted in by ANC councillors. ActionSA has a standing principle not to work with the ANC in any municipality, and Khoza was seen as going against her party by taking the portfolio on an ANC card.

She says ActionSA tended to adopt a very narrow and simplistic approach to South Africa’s complex problems.

“It tends to think unseating the ANC and defining it as the enemy are the panacea to all South African challenges.”

Before joining ActionSA, Khoza was a respected ANC politician. She staged a lone fight against corruption and fraud in the party and eventually left in protest. Also, a rare storyline about Khoza is that not many know that besides being a politician, she is also a poet and ardent reader of African literature.“I enjoy jazz, blues and African traditional music such as umaskandi.

In terms of literature, Maya Angelou, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Franz Fanon are my favourite authors.”

Her work in the academia has also been widely acknowledged.

“What excited me most was establishing the direct link between isiZulu language and counting logic system with the iShango bone [over 22 000], the world’s oldest and most advanced mathematical artefact”.

Khoza points out that through her research, she discovered that South African black children faced language barriers and that there were no grade-specific black African languages grammar textbooks.

“I sought to solve this problem by authoring grades 4-12 and beyond bilingual isiZulu and English grammar textbooks.”

Delving into her new role as chairperson of Mpac, Khoza  says: “I want to tackle fraud, corruption, laziness, incompetence and irregular expenditure head-on so that there is drastically improved quality of services to our people.”

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