The list of high-ranking African National Congress (ANC) officials speaking out against ANC MP Makhosi Khoza has grown, with her boss and party chief whip Jackson Mthembu blasting what he deems a "publicity spree".
Mthembu was critical of Khoza on Friday, after the MP revealed to eNCA this week that she had written to Parliament Speaker Baleka Mbete requesting a secret ballot in the motion of no confidence in President Jacob Zuma.
She cited her safety as a reason, saying she has been receiving death threats, both for her work as chairperson of public service and administration committee and for her anti-Zuma views.
"The ANC and its parliamentary caucus has been on record that its stance on the upcoming motion of no confidence in President Zuma by the opposition in Parliament is that we will not vote with the opposition in favour of such a motion," Mthembu said in a statement.
"Noting the above, ANC MP comrade Dr Makhosi Khoza has gone on a publicity spree in the past week, stating that she will not toe the party line when voting in the upcoming motion in Parliament."
Mthembu said Khoza had been casting aspersions on ANC MPs in the media, saying she doubted they had the necessary morality to make their own decisions.
"We take serious exception to such utterances as they seek to question the calibre of our MPs. ANC members of Parliament are tried and tested cadres of the movement who have in their own name and right contributed immensely to the attainment and advancement of our democracy."
'MPs can raise matters'
He said Khoza was invited to the ANC policy conference in her capacity as a chairperson of a parliamentary committee and should have spoken only about parliamentary matters.
He also denied Khoza's claim that she was not allowed to raise her views in ANC caucus meetings.
"Comrade Khoza, like any other member of the ANC caucus, has never been barred from raising their views in caucus meetings. To the contrary, comrade Khoza has consistently spoken at caucus and expressed her views on any matter.
"...Whilst we respect the right of any MP to raise matters they feel strongly about with the leadership of Parliament, party discipline dictates that she should have at least informed the chief whip of such actions. The fact that we find out about such through the media is very worrisome."
He said the chief whip would always protect the right of ANC MPs to raise their views, but that they should do so by following the party's structures.
"It appears as though comrade Khoza has defined herself outside of the collective of the ANC parliamentary caucus and is acting like an independent member of Parliament and a free agent who will not subject herself to organisational processes and discipline."
They, therefore, regarded her actions as "extreme ill-discipline", which should be acted upon by the organisation.
'Life at stake'
ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe also criticised Khoza on Wednesday July 5, telling the SABC at the party's policy conference in Johannesburg that she was "following and pursuing publicity in the media".
He regarded it as "ill-disciplined to the superlative degree", and also criticised her for leaving the conference early.
However, Khoza told News24 on Wednesday that deputy chief whip Doris Dlakude had approved her leaving early, as she had torn ankle ligaments on the eve of the conference, and was put off until July 10.
She said she had attended the conference, in spite of the ANC's own medical team advising her to go to the hospital and subsequently take time off, of which Mantashe should have been aware.
She also only revealed her steps in writing to the Speaker in response to a question from eNCA, after Police Minister Fikile Mbalula earlier that day labelled those who spoke out as "suicide bombers", saying they would be fired.
She said the term was not fair as she was receiving death threats "on a daily basis", and the party had not spoken out about the festering culture of intimidation.
She had only implored the Speaker to apply her mind, as she was getting desperate and had opened two criminal cases following threats against her. She needed the party and the speaker to protect her.
"The secretary general cannot expect me to be intimidated and to keep quiet. If Mbalula is saying we are going to be suicide bombers, somebody is going to do the suicide on my behalf.
"It's my life at stake; it's my children's life at stake. If the organisation is going to keep quiet, must I keep quiet?"
So far, she had only been reassured by Mthembu that she would be protected, but had still not heard from Mbete, she said. Attempts to speak to Mantashe were deemed as not following protocol.
'Police must act'
Mthembu responded to those claims too, saying nobody in the organisation or in the country had the right to vilify or threaten Khoza and her family.
"She, like any South African, enjoys the right to safety as enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.
"We again, as we have done before, call upon the organisation and the police authorities to act with the necessary speed to ensure that the safety of comrade Khoza and that of her family is guaranteed."
The ANC and the police authorities must also act against those who had threatened and intimidated Khoza and her family, he added.
In March, Parliament revealed that Khoza had received death threats following an oversight visit as chairperson of the public service and administration portfolio committee to a Mpumalanga hospital.
She had highlighted a number of problems in the Mpumalanga health services.
In May, her home address in Durban had been distributed on social media by members of the ANC Youth League in eThekwini after she posted on Facebook that she could not vote for an "amoral leader", in reference to the then pending vote of no confidence in Zuma.
Youth League members had called on other members to picket outside her house, where she lives as a single mother, labelling her comments "ill-disciplined".