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Black consciousness roots in new party seeking to oust ANC

Mamphela Ramphele

Mamphela Ramphele

(GIN) — On the heels of a State of the Union address by ANC President Jacob Zuma that critics felt was devoid of new ideas and uninspiring, a longtime anti-apartheid activist has come from the wings determined to unseat the ANC establishment, presenting fresh ideas and a new party.

Mamphela Ramphele, informal wife of the late Black consciousness leader Steve Biko, lost no time in criticizing the incumbents. “Our society’s greatness is being fundamentally undermined by a massive failure of governance,” she said at a launch event at the historic women’s jail at Constitutional Hill. “Our country has lost the moral authority and international respect it enjoyed when it became a democracy.”

There was no shortage of failed policies to criticize — the wide gap between rich and poor, attacks on striking miners and farmers, corruption and a broken education system.

The 65-year-old said her new organization would be called Agang — “Let us build” in the Sesotho language — and would take part in national elections next year.

In a manifesto released at the launch event, she warned that “the great society to which we committed ourselves … is rapidly unraveling before our eyes. … The impressive achievements of the past 18 years are being undermined by poor governance. … Corruption, nepotism and patronage have become the hallmarks of the conduct of many in public service. “

“It is not surprising that despair and hopelessness are driving many decent people to violence in both the domestic and public spaces. The majority of citizens feel excluded and disrespected at all levels of their daily lives.”

ANC supporters predictably attacked her manifesto. Patrick Craven of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) called it “political demagoguery.” “What we can expect from someone who was a managing director of the World Bank from 2000 to 2004 and the chairperson of Gold Fields from 2010, until she suddenly resigned just days before her Agang announcement?” Craven said accusatorily.

Ramphele has worn many hats: medical doctor, social anthropologist, World Bank managing director and university executive. She recently stepped down as chair of Gold Fields, a mining company. But she denied being a member of the out-of-touch elite.

Her platform has drawn support from the opposition. “South Africa is a great country being let down by a weak president,” said Lindiwe Mazibuko of the Democratic Alliance (DA). “Dr Ramphele shares the DA’s core values of non-racialism and constitutionalism,” added Mmusi Maimane, a spokesperson for the DA. “Her move is another step in the long process of realigning South African politics around these values.”


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