‘If there is one person I feel sorry for‚ it’s Cyril Ramaphosa’: Makhosi Khoza

Former ANC MP Makhosi Khoza
Former ANC MP Makhosi Khoza
Image: ESA ALEXANDER / SUNDAY TIMES

Former ANC MP Dr Makhosi Khoza says President Cyril Ramaphosa has inherited a difficult system where government promotes dismal failures and creates very little room for the growth of those who are doing right.

Speaking to the publication on Wednesday‚ Khoza said Ramaphosa may have good intentions‚ but he is saddled with many constraints.

“If there is one person I feel sorry for‚ it’s the president of the republic‚ Cyril Ramaphosa. People are already saying [that] he is not decisive. Obviously you are not going to be decisive if you are finding yourself in an environment where you have to take collective decisions with people that are severely compromised.

“It is going to be very difficult for him. It is not going to be easy‚” Khoza said.

Khoza resigned from the ANC in September last year after a tumultuous period in which she openly criticised then president Jacob Zuma. Khoza started her own political party‚ African Democratic Change‚ which simply didn’t go anywhere.

In April she retired from politics and later joined the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) as the executive director of local government. In her role she looks at the issues affecting communities‚ and‚ when needed‚ can even litigate against councils who are doing wrong.

Her priority is to deal with the effects of corruption in municipalities.

She said the burning down of a mall in Mpumalanga last month was an indicator of how bad things have gotten in society.

“We have reached a stage of being ungovernable‚” she said.

Khoza said that one of the key issues that made municipalities struggle was because there were no consequences for wrongdoing.

“There is this constant recycling of failure. You can see that even with ministers. It has become a norm in South Africa. A minister can fail in a department dismally but we then take him to somewhere else.

“A case in point is the Water and Sanitation Department with Nomvula Mokonyane. We take her from that department [to the Department of Communications]. Do you know how hard we worked to bring the SABC back to normalcy? But today she is the minister of communication. It means that you are recycling failure‚” she said.

Recycling of failed officials had become even more rife in local government‚ she said.

“You will find that a municipal manager collapses the municipality and resurfaces in another. That is why we end up moving in this vicious circle of paralysis because we are recycling failure. Some of the people who have collapsed municipalities are in Cogta [Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs] nationally.

“They are the ones that are advising the minister. Then you ask yourself‚ ‘Are we going to be able to get out of this? Are we going to get the message across that says corruption doesn’t pay when people can do it and know that if you do it‚ you get a promotion?’

“If you are against it‚ you get a demotion‚” Khoza said.

Khoza said government was choosing failed officials and simply ignoring good talent at its disposal.

“There is a lot of talent in South Africa. In an environment that has been rattled by patronage politics‚ normalised corruption‚ mediocrity is [the] norm. People who are competent‚ they never make it. They are overlooked.

“I am not being personal. When I was the chair of public service and administration [in Parliament] we went to Mpumalanga‚ all the hospitals there collapsed … There has been leadership in that province‚ where is that leadership today? It is second in charge in the country. You allow people with questionable credentials to rise up‚” she said.

Khoza said there was no way the ANC as the ruling party could self-correct‚ as there were no consequences for wrongdoing within the party.

She said leaders in the ANC were sacrificing principles for their personal ambitions.

“I do not believe that my personal ambition should be at the expense of my principles. Some people are able to do that. If you are desperate enough to be in such a position‚ you will turn a blind eye to the wrong things.

“My view is that the type of leaders that we have is not the leadership that is prepared to bite the bullet‚ people who will say I am not going to have unity at all cost. If you are going to be putting unity at the expense of … the progress and the collective prosperity that we all expect from this country‚ there is something wrong with you.”

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