Hlengiwe Nhlabathi and Reuters
POLITICAL activist and academic Mamphela Ramphele tore into the ANC yesterday at the launch of her party, saying the ruling party was blatantly abusing the state to benefit its loyalists and to sustain itself.
Ramphele told a packed room at the Women's Gaol at Constitutional Hill in Johannesburg the "party political platform" Agang SA, which refers to building a new South Africa, would contest the upcoming general elections next year.
In her speech, Ramphele said her party would consult with South Africans to tackle fundamental failures in governance and assured those listening that her party would put South Africans first.
She slammed the ANC process of drawing up lists and allocating seats in parliament, saying electoral reform would be the first order of parliament in 2014. She also lamented the poor education system, corruption and inefficiency in the public service as she asked South Africans to join her party.
"The decision to enter party politics has not come easily. I have never been a member of a political party nor aspired to political office.
"I, however, feel called to lead the efforts of many South Africans who increasingly fear that we are missing too many opportunities to become that which we have the potential to become – a great society," she said. "I will be the bridge between my generation and my son's generation."
Her generation had failed young people, Ramphele said.
Political commentator and gender activist Nomboniso Gasa, who chaired the launch, denied any further involvement beyond yesterday's festivities. Gasa said she was "not part of Agang" but had agreed to chair the launch because the issues raised publicly by Ramphele "resonate with me".
Ramphele pulled no punches as she criticised the manner in which the ANC, the government, the president and the state had merged into a "monolith of impunity".
"Poor people are the biggest losers as a result of the unholy business- government alliances designed to aggressively pursue commercial interests for political elites," she said.
Ramphela pointed to the ANC's investment arm, Chancellor House, and said: "[It] represents the most blatant example of how the governing party has abused the state to benefit its loyalists and to sustain itself in power.
"The most troubling aspect of Chancellor House investments is the lack of transparency of its deals."
She was, however, cagey about who was part of her new initiative.
Political parties reacted cautiously to Ramphele's announcement.
The ANC "noted" her announcement but said it offered nothing new.
DA spokesman Mmusi Maimane said Ramphele shared the DA's core values of non-racialism and constitutionalism.