Former anti-apartheid activist forms new party to challenge ANC
Former anti-apartheid activist Mamphela Ramphele threw down the gauntlet yesterday to South Africa’s ruling African National Congress by forming a new political party platform and urging people to join her to contest the next elections.
At a press conference held at the women’s jail on Constitution Hill in Johannesburg, the academic and business woman explained that her new movement was still at a consultative stage, but that she intended to contest the 2014 national elections.
“What I am going to be doing, and have been doing, is consulting every citizen because they deserve as much attention,” Dr Ramphele told reporters. “Our approach is to go from village to village, township to township, young people, old people, rich people, poor people because the country belongs to all of us.”
Named Agang SA, which in Sepedi – one of South Africa’s local languages – means Build South Africa, she said the party would develop many new public policies and put them into practice. She added that she saw herself as a bridge between South Africa’s new generation and the one that fought to defeat apartheid, which she maintained “must go into the sunset”.
Speculation has been intense over whether Dr Ramphele would form a new movement to take on the ANC.
She is the former partner of Steve Beko, an anti-apartheid activist, student leader and founder of the Black Consciousness Movement who was murdered by police in 1977.
The ANC remains the dominant political party in South Africa by a significant margin. But it has slowly been losing support because of perceptions it is hamstrung by an inability to transform into a 21st-century democratic party.
In addition, under the leadership of President Jacob Zuma, corruption and incompetence at administrative level appears to have become entrenched.
Dr Ramphele said the country that South Africans had hoped would emerge in the post-apartheid era had not materialised for many, and that it was her generation’s fault.
“My generation has to apologise to the young people of our country. We have failed, yes we have failed,” she said before listing all the failures.
While her decision to enter politics has been welcomed, many analysts believe it will be difficult for her to make a real impact. They point to the fact that numerous new parties with the same intentions have fallen by the wayside over the past 20 years.