Star S.African activist launches movement to challenge ANC
Respected businesswoman and anti-apartheid activist Mamphela Ramphele Monday launched a political party platform to challenge the ruling ANC in a much-awaited entry into politics.
“Today I announce that I am working with a group of fellow citizens to form a party political platform that will focus on rekindling hope that building the country of our dreams is possible in our lifetime,” Ramphele, 65, said in Johannesburg.
Named Agang, a Sepedi word that means “Let’s build”, the movement should respond “to the yearnings of citizens who have largely stood on the sidelines for lack of an appropriate political home,” she added.
A former World Bank managing director and trained medical doctor, Ramphele has been vocal in criticising the African National Congress, which dominates politics.
“Our country is at risk because self-interest has become the driver of many of those in positions of authority who should be focused on serving the public,” she added.
“Corruption, nepotism and patronage have become the hallmarks of the conduct of many in public service.”
Mamphele called for profound economic restructuring following months of deadly wage-strikes in the mine and agriculture sectors.
“The mining sector’s business model based on reliance on the migrant labour system and large numbers of low-cost, low-skilled labour is unsustainable,” she said.
Mines and farms “have to migrate to a business model that invests in skills of its workers, uses innovative technologies to remain competitive and create new type of jobs and opportunities for all,” she added.
The former University of Cape Town vice-chancellor also called for a turn-around in education.
“It is woeful, shameful that we should have such low expectations of young South Africans that we are prepared to accept thirty percent as a pass mark for school leavers.”
Agang aims to change South Africa’s election system, which has parties nominate their members of parliament.
Lawmakers should be elected directly by constituencies, “so we can hold them accountable for the electoral promises they make,” she said.
Her announcement follows weeks of speculation she would enter politics in Africa’s largest economy.
The ANC won 65.9 percent in 2009 polls, with the main opposition the Democratic Alliance taking 16.7 percent.