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Tutu backs S.Africa opposition leader

Published on 21/06/2013

South Africa's peace icon Desmond Tutu on Friday welcomed renowned anti-apartheid activist Mamphela Ramphele's entry into opposition politics.

“Few thinking South Africans would not welcome the entry into South African politics of someone of the calibre, background, intellect and resourcefulness of Mamphela Ramphele,” said Tutu in a statement.

A former World Bank managing director and medical doctor, Ramphele, will launch her political party Agang on Saturday to challenge President Jacob Zuma’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) in 2014 polls.

“If Dr Ramphele formally enters the election race next year, and goes on to attract sufficient votes to become a parliamentarian, there is no doubt that South Africans will benefit from her experience and her knowledge,” Tutu added.

Tutu, a Nobel peace laureate, last month said he will not vote for the ANC which brought Nelson Mandela to power 19 years ago.

He blamed the ruling party for corruption, failure to end poverty and inequality, and general falling standards of living.

He hailed Ramphele as a brave and “principled leader who has been ready to take costly stands for social justice.”

She spent years banished to a small South African town by the white minority-regime and had been the partner of murdered activist Steve Biko.

She “has spoken of a pervasive climate of fear and intolerance in South Africa, where critics restrict their criticisms to their armchairs behind closed doors rather than risk their capital or their connections or their clout.”

The ANC has been the ruling party since the fall of apartheid and the 1994 elections which made Mandela the country’s first black president.

It has seen overwhelming victories at the ballot box but is now under pressure because of failures to deliver on promises.