Ramphele enters political fray, plans to contest 2014 elections

18th February 2013

By: Shannon de Ryhove

Contributing Editor


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Author, activist and businessperson Dr Mamphela Ramphele on Monday announced her intention to form a "party political platform" for all South Africans that “will focus on rekindling the hope that building the country of our dreams is possible in our lifetime”.

“The initiative is being launched under the name Agang, or in the Nguni languages of our country, Akhani, which can be interpreted in English as ‘Build South Africa’”, she said in a launch speech delivered at the apartheid-era Women’s Gaol on Constitution Hill.

The new party would contest the 2014 general elections.

Ramphele said South Africa was a country at risk because self-interest had become the driver of many of those in positions of authority who should be focused on serving the public.

“The great society to which we committed ourselves, following our relatively peaceful political transition, is rapidly unravelling before our eyes. Poor governance at all levels of society is undermining the impressive achievements of the past 18 years.

“An unchecked culture of impunity and the abuse of power, as well as public resources, robs children, young people, [and] rural and urban poor people of the fruits of freedom,” she lamented.

Ramphele’s decision to enter politics had not been easy, she said, and she had no illusions of the task that lay ahead.

“I see myself as a bridge between my generation … and that of my children,” adding that “bridges get trampled upon” but nevertheless declared her trust in South Africa's citizens' capacity to come together at critical times to do what others believe is impossible.

“We have been on the brink before. We need to rediscover and live the dream that made our country great,” she said.

The political party platform she and her team of four energetic campaigners are working on forming is an opportunity for all citizens to join hands in shaping it to ensure that it responds to the yearnings of citizens who have largely stood on the sidelines for lack of an appropriate political home. She noted that it was a "party political platform" as it was still in a consultative stage. The name Agang SA could change through consultations.

Ramphele laid out several critical discussions her party would initiate across the country: the power and responsibility of active citizenship; enabling good governance; developing improved competency in the public service; how the economy can be restructured for growth, sustainability and improved equality; creating education and training systems for the 21st century that better position youth in a competitive world; and raising South Africa’s standing in the world.

She also reiterated her earlier call for electoral reform. “Our rallying cry during the struggle for freedom was for the people to govern, yet the system of choosing Members of Parliament from lists drawn up by political parties gives disproportionate power to party bosses at the expense of ordinary citizens.

“We should be able to vote for the person in our own area we want to represent us in Parliament, so we can hold them accountable for the electoral promises they make,” she said.

“If people are unhappy and the MP is not responsive enough, they will be voted out at the next election.”

She announced a one-million-signature campaign calling for electoral reform and said it must be the first order of business of the post-2014 election Parliament.

Ramphele invited all compatriots to work with Agang to build a South Africa we can all be proud of. “We owe it to you, our children, and your children to leave them a legacy of a great country. South Africans deserve nothing less,” she concluded.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter


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