Zuma “makes us feel awkward for being black and smart”

Large meeting demands end to corrupt presidency

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Photo of Makhosi Khoza
Outspoken ANC MP Makhosi Khoza addressed the gathering at The Conference for The Future of South Africa at the Rhema Bible Church in Randburg on Tuesday. Photo: Ihsaan Haffejee

About a hundred civil society organisations gathered at the Rhema Bible Church in Randburg on Tuesday to participate in The Conference for The Future of South Africa. Hosted by the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation and Save SA, the organisers said the aim of the conference was to unite civil society in the fight against state capture.

Large white banners were placed at the entrance to the conference on which people wrote messages to Members of Parliament that would be displayed outside parliament on 8 August when a vote of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma is held. “Make Madiba proud. Vote Zuma out,” read one message written on the day on which former President Nelson Mandela would have celebrated his 99th birthday.

Save SA’s Sipho Pityana opened the conference by quoting Mandela’s last State of the Nation address: “Our hope for the future depends also on our resolution as a nation in dealing with the scourge of corruption.” Pityana said that South Africa was in the position it finds itself because as a nation we did not heed the words and advice of Nelson Mandela on the perils of corruption. “We have made many mistakes as a nation since we fought for liberation. We have written a Constitution that did not envisage the sort of corrupt leadership we have today. We have entrusted untrustworthy people with power. We have allowed the gains of liberation to be stolen away,” he said.

Several politicians and members of the labour movement also attended. Former Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom was at the conference in his capacity as a board member of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation. “We are sitting with a situation where the kind of leadership that the people expect of the ANC is not forthcoming,” he said. Hanekom was one of the ministers axed by Zuma during his cabinet reshuffle in March. “The way it’s going at the moment under the current leadership there seems to be an inability to be able to correct the wrongs because some of our own leaders are implicated in the wrongs.”

Speaking to the media during the lunch break, former Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said that President Zuma should step aside as he is failing to fulfil the aspirations that Nelson Mandela and his generation had for South Africa.

The loudest cheer of the day was for outspoken ANC MP Makhosi Khoza. Khoza has said she has had death threats leveled against her and her family. This is likely for her criticism of President Zuma and for her stance in favour of a secret ballot no-confidence vote in Parliament. She said that the president has lost his legitimacy. “I am here to defend the ANC mission and not a dishonorable and disgraceful leader. As an African feminist I find the patriarchal system oppressive. I also find being led by a man who harasses women extremely intolerable,” she said.

Khoza accused the president of dismissing anti-Zuma protesters as racists and “clever blacks”. “This is a president who has made us feel awkward for being black and smart. Mr President, South Africa no longer needs you. Mr President uphold the country’s constitution. Step aside and let moral and ethical leaders, lead this country to a prosperous path,” she said to rapturous applause.

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TOPICS:  Jacob Zuma

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