South African lawmaker who criticized Zuma fired from assembly role

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 17, 2017 1:25 PM

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - An outspoken African National Congress backbencher who is calling for President Jacob Zuma's resignation has been sacked by the party from her role as head of parliament's committee on public service and administration.

Makhosi Khoza, who has already been charged with bringing the party into disrepute, was removed "owing to the irretrievable breakdown of relations between herself and ANC members of the committee" the ANC said in a statement.

Khoza had made clear she would break ranks with the ruling party by voting for a no-confidence motion in Zuma on Aug. 8 and has become a prominent figure for denouncing the president while she is a member of parliament.

Reuters could not independently confirm how she voted, but about 30 ANC lawmakers supported the opposition's unsuccessful attempt to remove Zuma.

Zuma said on Sunday the party should identify and punish members who voted against him.

"The irretrievable breakdown of relations arises from her public utterances preceding the motion of no confidence vote in President Jacob Zuma and her continued public attacks on ANC leadership and members of her ANC Caucus who voted against the motion on 08 August 2017," the ruling party statement said.

"She remains an ANC member of parliament pending the outcomes of disciplinary action taken against her by the organization."

The ANC KwaZulu-Natal branch is pushing to fast-track her case, in which she is accused of bringing the party into disrepute.

She made her criticism of Zuma to a conference of civil society groups, unions and business leaders pushing for his removal after eight years in office.

On Thursday, Khoza was unapologetic after her dismissal.

"If I'm fired because I follow my moral conscience then so be it. I will serve my people in whatever platform I have to," she told reporters.

Critics say Zuma's priority is to ensure he retains sufficient control over the various factions of the ANC to ensure that his chosen candidate succeeds him as leader so he can avoid scrutiny over corruption allegations that have dogged his eight years in power. Zuma has denied wrongdoing.

The opposition sought to oust Zuma after he removed finance minister Pravin Gordhan in March, a move that hit the financial markets and prompted two credit ratings agencies to downgrade South Africa's debt rating to junk status.

(Reporting by James Macharia; editing by Giles Elgood)