The ANC’s charges against Makhosi Khoza MP invite comparison with those the DA brought against Helen Zille. Both women, it would appear, are victims of wanton autocracy.
In both cases, the accused are said to have brought the names of their respective parties into disrepute by making statements which impact negatively on party image and unity. Yet in both cases, their statements were honest and objective: Zille in stating the historical truth that the effects of colonialism were both positive and negative. Khoza for declaring that Zuma should resign because of the corruption and kleptocracy with which he is associated.
Both Zille and Khoza have given expression to what open-minded, reasonable people believe and endorse. Yet in both instances, they have come up against party opinions which, in the case of Zille have effectively gagged her for the rest of her term in office. Although Khoza faces the same treatment, given her courage and determination and the fact that others in the ANC have also publicly called on Zuma to resign, the charges against her will not survive a legal challenge.
While one would have hoped that Zille would have shown greater resolve in defending the truth concerning her stance on colonialism, given the DA’s much-vaunted claim of liberal tolerance, the settlement she accepted, like the muzzle which the ANC is seeking to impose on Khoza, provides perspective on the extent to which the democratic process is controlled by parties and cliques within parties. Certainly, in the case of Zille, the punitive action taken by the DA brass for her remarks on colonialism bears not a shred of compatibility with the DA’s boast of an “open, opportunity society.”
Both Zille and Khoza have shown themselves to be champions of liberal tolerance and to have aired opinions which find traction with discerning voters. That is how a healthy democracy should function. That their respective political fates are determined behind closed doors by committees is a sad commentary on the state of political “freedom in this country”.
Sent into The Daily News, 1 August 2017.